Photo: The 9th grade on the Upper Field for their class dinner.
Over the past two years, we at North Country School, along with so many schools around the world, have had to rethink and restructure our programming to prioritize the health of the children in our care. With a rise in community COVID cases over the past few weeks, we made the difficult decision to alter our end-of-year traditions and close out the 2021-2022 academic year earlier than planned. Though events and activities may have looked different than we’d hoped, there was no shortage of joy to be found both on our mountain campus and in our extended community as we joined together to recognize one another and to celebrate our 9th-grade graduating class.
Students living on campus spent the week participating in fun activities with their house groups—hiking on our trails and to nearby vistas, helping care for our farm and gardens, and working on group art projects. The campus community was joined virtually by off-campus friends and family during our Appreciation Town Meeting, where student achievements in hiking, reading, and community work were honored. The week ended with an outdoor graduation ceremony and the annual distribution of handmade Senior Books, which contain pages of thanks and appreciation created by students and teachers for each of our 9th-grade students. It was a wonderful way to end an amazing school year, and we are so proud of our graduating students for closing out their NCS experience with the same thoughtful self-reflection, impressive resilience, and care for one another they have exhibited throughout their time with us.
Congratulations to our graduating 9th-grade class! We wish you well in all of your next adventures.
*Note: We will return with more updates from our mountain campus in September, 2022.
Top: The extended community gathers together virtually. Middle 1: English teacher Melissa recognizes our “Literary 46er” honorees. Middle 2: Algonquin House students watch the Appreciation Town Meeting together. Middle 3: Josie in her “Dear Me” video. Middle 4: Koga in his “Dear Me” video. Bottom: A photo of 9th-grade student Abigail as an NCS 4th-grader.
Each May, we end the Spring Term with an all-school Appreciation Town Meeting where we celebrate the year spent together. This past Thursday, our school community gathered together over Zoom to share our kind words and well-wishes for one another. After many moving “thank yous” offered to teachers, friends, houseparents, and classmates, we honored individual student achievements in areas across the NCS school program. English teacher Melissa recognized the students who attained their “Literary 46er” honor for reading and writing reflections on 46 books over the course of their time at NCS. Ninth-grader Colton was honored as the newest Literary 46er, making him the 40th NCS community member to receive this honor! The Jamieson Roseliep Work Award recipients were also announced, and 6th-grader Laurie, 8th-grader Joseph, and 9th-grader Tyler were all recognized for their ongoing contributions to the community through volunteer work.
We watched our 9th-graders’ “Dear Me” videos, in which our graduating students offer advice to the younger versions of themselves who arrived at NCS, whether that was six months ago or six years ago. Messages included poignant reminders to try different activities, to talk to new people, and reflections that even the hard moments—like falling while learning to snowboard or hiking in freezing temperatures—will help shape the people they will become. The school photo slideshow featured highlights from the year, including fall’s WARP wilderness role play event, winter’s Skimeister day of snow sports, and spring’s potato planting, before ending with images of our 9th-graders as the younger students they were when they first came to NCS.
Top: The “Mountain Cakes” hiking slideshow. Middle 1: Meredith breaks down the hiking numbers for the year. Middle 2: Amon with his “100 Miles” sticker and Mountain Cakes t-shirt. Bottom: The on-campus Mountain Cakes hikers and t-shirt designers pose with their gear.
The Town Meeting also included our annual “Mountain Cakes” ceremony, which recognizes the students who covered the most (literal) ground in our outdoor program this year. The top twelve student hikers, known as the Dirty Dozen, along with the residential houses with the most miles, are awarded with student-designed Mountain Cake t-shirts, “100 Miles” stickers, and colorful outdoor-themed cakes. Congratulations to 7th-grader Vivián, who was recognized as the student who hiked, skied, and paddled the greatest distance this year; to Clark House for earning the most collective miles as a house; and to Eric and Enola, who designed this year’s t-shirt!
Top: Algonquin House students on Balanced Rocks. Middle 1: Elyssa shows students the beehive. Middle 2: Yehor in front of the beehive. Middle 3: Clark House students help the farmers in the Children’s Garden. Middle 4: Mountain House students work in the greenhouse. Middle 5: Bramwell students paint the compost mural. Middle 6: Koga, Mateo, and Sean paint the compost mural. Middle 7: Ariana in a blooming crabapple tree. Bottom: Grace and Tina enjoy Round Lake.
Though many of our students went home early and our Endersession week of special programming did not take place as planned, the students who remained on campus still spent the past week participating in fun outdoor, farm, and art activities on and around our mountain campus.
The students in Algonquin House hiked up Balanced Rocks and took in the view of Round Lake and the barnyard from one of our favorite vistas, while teacher and bee enthusiast Elyssa had plenty of help as she checked on our flourishing beehive. Clark House students spent a drizzly afternoon pruning and clearing the raspberry plants and beach rose hedges in our Children’s Garden, while Mountain House students took shelter from the rain in the greenhouse and helped Garden Manager Kim weed and seed rows where our summer vegetable crops will soon flourish. Bramwell House continued last week’s work on the mural in the compost bay, where the food scraps from our kitchen are broken down into nutrient rich soil amendment. After many hours of creative collaboration, this community art project is nearly complete, and will surely be enjoyed by many years of students as they participate in this important part of our campus food system. There was also plenty of time to simply relax in a few of our favorite campus spots, like the stand of crabapple trees that have exploded with fragrant blossoms, and our campus lake, where students have been busy building sandcastles, paddling canoes, and soaking in the sunshine.
Top: The 9th-graders on stage at graduation. Middle 1: A graduation flower arrangement. Middle 2: Matt presents Tyler with the Jamieson Roseliep Work Award. Middle 3: Graduation speaker Pamela Rosenthal addresses the 9th-grade class. Bottom: Fred and Lily play a duet on the piano at graduation.
This Saturday morning, our on-campus community was joined by our 9th-graders’ families for our 2021-22 graduation ceremony. It was a joyous event, one in which we were able to take the time to honor each graduate before seeing them off toward the next exciting stage in their lives. We also recognized in person a few of the students who’d been celebrated virtually during our Appreciation Town Meeting earlier in the week, including 9th-graders Tyler and Colton, who received rounds of applause for receiving the Jamieson Roseliep Work Award and the Literary 46er honor, respectively. Graduation speaker Pamela Rosenthal—a past NCS parent, Vice Chair of our Board of Trustees, and a rheumatologist who teaches at the NYU School of Medicine—spoke powerfully about resilience, and about the many lessons learned at NCS that will help our students face whatever challenges may come their way. Students Fred and Lily then performed the piano duet they’ve been practicing throughout the Spring Term, wowing everyone in attendance with the beautiful collaborative piece.Top: Elyssa speaks about her advisee, Camila, during graduation. Middle 1: Colton thanks his family and friends. Middle 2: Jess hugs her advisee, Tyler. Middle 3: Handmade Senior Books with fabric landscape designs. Middle 4: Zachary reads through his Senior Book. Bottom: Graduating 9th-graders Josie and Abigail.
Our NCS graduation ceremony ended with faculty advisors speaking about their 9th-grade advisees, before each student was welcomed to the podium to share their own reflections and words of gratitude. Students were then presented with their handmade Senior Books, which were created this year by art teacher Sierra. The books, which portray a wooded landscape made from patterned fabric, contain pages of heartfelt and funny messages from students and teachers. Unique to each academic year, these books will no-doubt become lifelong keepsakes for our graduates, just as they have for the generations of students who came before them.
It was a moving and emotional day for many, and a great example of the myriad of ways our students are able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, not only with the resilience we talk about so frequently, but also with patience, gratitude, and grace. We’re so proud of our 2021-2022 graduates, and know that wherever they go, they’ll bring a piece of their NCS experience with them.