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Photo: 6th-grader Samantha cooks pancakes for NCS Pancake Breakfast at her home.

With the end of the academic year right around the corner, we at North Country School—like so many around the world—have been reflecting back on the many ways we have had to adapt to the new challenges set before us this spring. Though the course has been mostly uncharted, what we have returned to again and again is that the core values established by this institution nearly 100 years ago have never been more relevant than they are today. A focus on community, an understanding of life-cycles and connection to the natural world, the importance of art in our lives, and the knowledge that many hands make light work has helped carry us through this time, and we have seen countless examples of those values on display in communities far and near. From musicians performing together on city balconies, to local farms making home deliveries to communities in need, we have been warmed and inspired by the many ways, both large and small, that these values are being exhibited by caring individuals all across the globe.

This past week, as we celebrated our annual community Pancake Breakfast in a long-distance manner that we never would have imagined in years past, we were reminded once more that, though we may not all be together at the moment, the bonds formed on this campus hold strong. Next week as we prepare to close out the academic year, we are continuing to find new ways to celebrate our long-held traditions. From the filmed and edited production of our spring theater performance, to our remote graduation ceremony, to the handmade senior books that will be mailed out to our graduates, we are proud of the innovative ways our community members have found to connect to one another and to all of you.

Join us next week for our end-of-year festivities and to celebrate our 2020 graduating class as they continue on to their next adventures. In order to include our graduation ceremony, spring production, and other closing events, this semester’s final #ThisWeekAtNCS will be posted on Monday, June 1, 2020.

We’d love to include photos of your own end-of-year and graduation celebrations in this blog and the NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Please email photos to Becca Miller at .

Note: Our campus is closed to all students for the remainder of the school year, with the exception of the international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These students, along with our houseparents and faculty, are staying on campus and enjoying outdoor adventures in the contiguous wilderness during this time. They have been and will continue to take appropriate safety and prevention measures.

CREATIVITY AND CONNECTION






Top: Teacher Caroline dressed up for English class. Middle 1: 5th-grader Duncan dressed up for English class. Middle 2: 5th-grader Justin introduces his book character. Middle 3: Science teacher Max talks about convection. Bottom: 6th-grade science class on Zoom.

On Wednesday, 4th- and 5th-grade English class dressed up as their favorite characters from books they read this academic year. Each student, along with their teacher, Caroline, put together costumes and props using objects found around their homes, with fun and creative results. Students shared their costumes in class, introducing their character and explaining where and when they were from. Student Duncan dressed as Danny from I Survived….Pearl Harbor, by Lauren Tarshis; Kalina was Zelie from Children of Blood & Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi; Justin was Timmy Failure from the Timmy Failure series, by Stephan Pastis; Wyatt was Harry Potter from the Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling; and Caroline went all-out as Micay from The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis.

Our 6th-grade science students in Max’s class have been doing at-home experiments on the effects heat has on different foods during the cooking process. Over the week the class looked for connections in foods that have to do with color, and noticed that food tends to change color when exposed to heat. The observation sparked a discussion about the different methods of heating food. To show the class an example of convection—one of the heating methods discussed—Max brought a colorful lamp filled with metallic sparkles that move around their water solution as a lightbulb heats them from below.




Top: Spanish teacher Elie reads students’ Spanish books. Middle: 8th-grader Ella explains her book to classmates. Bottom: A slide from 8th-grader Ella’s Spanish children’s book.

Our 8th- and 9th-grade Spanish 2 students completed their children’s book projects this week by presenting their finished work to their peers and other invited community members. The class read each book aloud in Spanish as a group, and then each student was given the opportunity to explain their work and field questions. Ella’s book, about a family on a picnic that encounters a friendly talking snake, took place in Venezuela. Tianyu’s book took place in Nicaragua and focused on our current moment in history, while Sally’s book was about three barnyard animals meeting and becoming friends in Colombia.

ART AND ADAPTATION

Top: 9th-grader Sky’s homemade WARP costume. Middle 1: The back of Sky’s homemade WARP costume. Middle 2: 8th-grader Ella paints set pieces in the WallyPAC. Middle 3: 9th-grader Tianyu builds an instrument in the WallyPAC. Bottom: The Community Lounge treehouse and painted walls.

We at North Country School have been inspired to see all the creative ways students and their families have continued to embody our core value of “art every day” from their homes around the world. The same has held true for those of us living on our mountain campus, with students and adults working on both collaborative and independent projects using their varied artistic interests and skills.

This week students spent time in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) theater tech space, working with a variety of materials to produce innovative work for themselves and the greater community. Graduating 9th-grader Sky used reclaimed materials like old sap collection buckets for a Wilderness Active Role Play (WARP) costume that will be worn by others this upcoming fall, while 8th-grader Ella continued to paint floral set pieces for our remote production of Alice in Wonderland, and 9th-grader Tianyu continued his work on an original brass instrument using pipes and other reclaimed scrap metal. Meanwhile, the Community Lounge space in our Main Building is nearly complete. Students and teacher Gavi painted some finishing touches on the walls and climbing structure this past week that included leaves, bark, moss, and lichen. We look forward to many years of reading, playing, and congregating together in that space, which reflects the natural beauty of the North Country woods that surround campus.

NCS AT HOME




Top: 9th-grader Hart takes photos of Lake Champlain. Middle: 7th-grader JT bikes with his family. Bottom: Students rock climb at the NCS crag.

At North Country School, nature is our master teacher, and this week we were thrilled to see our students near and far taking advantage of the beautiful outdoor spring weather both to recreate and to work on class projects. 9th-grader Hart spent some time outside near his Vermont home taking photographs of Lake Champlain for his work in Sierra’s photography class, while 7th-grader JT went out with his family for some mountain biking on local trails. On campus, students spent some time at our climbing crag, working on their climbing and belaying skills under the guidance of our talented and experienced climbing faculty members.






Top: Matt makes pancakes for the NCS community. Middle 1: Tables set for NCS pancake breakfast. Middle 2: 8th-grader Alex makes pancakes from home. Middle 3: 6th-grader Samantha has pancake breakfast at home. Bottom: NCS pancake breakfast recipe sent to families.

This past weekend marked our annual Pancake Breakfast, a long held and much loved NCS tradition that invites members of our local and extended community to the NCS campus. In years past, this festive event included a pancake meal featuring local ingredients; barn and campus tours; face painting; and other fun on-campus activities for families. Though this year we weren’t able to invite others to this event, we found new and innovative ways to celebrate Pancake Breakfast together.

Matt and other members of our hardworking kitchen staff prepared a delicious meal for those living on campus to enjoy, while students and staff worked together to decorate and mail out ingredients (including NCS maple syrup!) and recipes so our larger community could participate from their own homes. We were delighted to see photos of students, families, and friends of the institution cooking and celebrating together from locations all around the world, keeping this tradition going strong despite the distances between us. We look forward to celebrating future Pancake Breakfasts with all of you from right here on our beautiful Adirondack mountain campus, but until then, happy eating!

FARM AND GARDEN




Top: Garden Manager Tess plants tomatoes in the greenhouse. Middle: A tomato plant goes into the ground. Bottom: English teacher Melissa helps plant tomatoes.

At North Country School and Camp Treetops, we know that many hands make light work, and though our on-campus population may be small at the moment, we are more than willing to lend our hands to the necessary tasks that support our community. This week that enthusiasm to help one another was on display in our campus greenhouses, where on-campus adults joined Garden Manager Tess to transplant the tomato and eggplant starts that have been growing in flats into the ground. After only a few hours of work digging in the dirt the task was complete, and the back greenhouse is now filled with the plants that will provide thousands of pounds of colorful fruit throughout the summer season.




Top: Sheep enjoy the pasture. Middle: Piglets on the pasture. Bottom: Piglets nosing the dirt.

This past week we enjoyed spectacular spring weather, with warm sunny days and brilliant blue skies. Barn Manager Erica and the farm interns took advantage of the beautiful conditions to move our barnyard animals outside to enjoy some time on the grassy pasture. The sheep, including our bouncy new lambs, were delighted to graze the fresh green grass by the barnyard, while the piglets nosed around in the cool ground looking for tasty treats buried in the mud and dirt.

We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and that your communities are caring for and supporting one another. We will continue to update you about our community throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach out to us as well.

CONNECTING WITH OUR COMMUNITY:

Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time. Last week Lauren recently shared a couple of excerpts from the book “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” by Lori Gottlieb.

Tuesdays: Creature Query– Barn Manager Erica Burns will be answering questions about the animals on our farm using fun and educational videos. In this week’s Creature Query, Erica explained why pigs wallow in the mud. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?– Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie Rabinowitz, along with other community members, will provide simple recipes and cooking resources you can use to prepare delicious meals at home with your families. This past week theater teacher Courtney and her family taught us how to make beef empanadas. Check out all of the recipes on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Thursdays: Birding with Jack– 6th grade English teacher Jack Kiernan will offer the NCS community an opportunity to connect through the world of birds by providing the resources to become familiar with birds that our community is seeing around the globe. If you are out for a walk or sitting at home, looking out the window, take a moment to log the birds you see with the NCS eBird account. Last week Jack taught us about tree swallows and northern flickers. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. Last week Meredith talked about omoiyari and kokorozukai, two Japanese words that center around the idea of compassion and kindness.

Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity– Every Saturday at 8 p.m., NCS teacher Larry Robjent, along with other NCS faculty, will be hosting fun activities similar to those typically held on campus with students. Participate live from home with your own families. Last week was Charades; this week’s activity is a fun tower defense game.

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .

#ThisWeekAtNCS