NBC5: Lake Placid boarding school stands firm on cellphone policy amid Vermont legislative debate

Students gather around to plan their debate.

By Benny Nezaj
Posted: February 23, 2024

LAKE PLACID — As Vermont legislators received testimony this week on a proposed bill to ban cellphones and social media in schools, the policy implemented at North Country School, a private boarding institution located in Lake Placid, provides a unique perspective.

Established in 1938, North Country School has long upheld a strict no cellphone and limited social media policy. Students like Katie, a ninth-grade student at the school, are allowed only three brief sessions of phone usage per week, totaling 30 minutes each, a restriction she finds conducive to focused learning and interpersonal connection.

“I think having those 30 minutes to most people would be like, ‘everyone wants it.’ Something they all really need. But for us, it’s kind of just like, we know how to use it properly,” Katie said.

While the school acknowledges the evolution of technology, including the integration of computers and Chromebooks for educational purposes, they have never deemed cell phones necessary for enhancing the educational experience.

“When the advent of technology came in to be an enhancement to the educational process, of course we added in things like Chromebooks for students to learn digitally. But we haven’t just found a reason why phones will actually enhance that educational experience,” said Todd Ormiston, the executive director of North Country School.

Moreover, North Country School supplements its academic curriculum with wellness courses, teaching students proper phone and social media usage. School counselors emphasize the positive impact of limited phone use on students’ mental health, highlighting the relief from social media pressures.

“Not having technology, not having cellphones, not having social media definitely relieves the pressure that social media puts on these kiddos,” said Abby Swint, a mental health counselor at the school.

Echoing this sentiment, Katie emphasized the value of spending time with peers and engaging in the school’s offerings without the distraction of screens.

“You’re there for a limited amount of time. And I think it’s valuable to spend time with the people there while you’re there and to get a good learning experience when you can just go home and use your phone afterwards,” Katie said.

North Country School remains strong in its policy, with no plans to alter it in the foreseeable future. Vermont’s education committee will continue taking testimony on the bill.

Watch the story at mynbc5.com.
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2024-02-29T19:40:48+00:00NCS Happenings|

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