Photo: Colton bikes at home. Credit: Ken Cushman.

At North Country School, resilience isn’t just about getting through a tough time, it’s about succeeding in the face of adversity, and that requires being nimble and evolving to meet new challenges. We’ve all been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another, and we’ve all had to adjust accordingly. Among other things, our teachers and students have had to adapt to connecting in different ways as they’ve learned to do hands-on-learning from afar. Communication has never been more important, and we are happy so many students and parents have stayed in touch by email and social media to let us know how they’re doing. Many are using skills they learned at NCS, like cooking in our Edible Schoolyard classes, to spend time with their families. We couldn’t be prouder, seeing our community members taking things they’ve learned and sharing them with the people they love.

Please keep sending us your photos, and we will add them to our NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Email photos to .

Note: Our campus is temporarily closed to all students, with the exception of the 21 international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These students, 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 practice social distancing, as well as CDC approved safety and prevention protocols.


Top: Josh teaches Global Issues class. Middle: 9th-grade Global Issues class on Zoom. Bottom: Rebecca participates in class from Cascade House. 

This week, as much of our community remains separated by great distances, our teachers and students continued to work together to connect and learn. In Josh’s 9th-grade Global Issues class, this moment in time has provided many jumping-off points for thoughtful dialogue and analysis. Josh continues to end each week with a current events discussion. This past week the group of students, including several working from their on-campus residential houses, engaged in a dynamic conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of socialized healthcare—a particularly topical issue in this complicated global moment.

Top: Camp Director Karen bakes blueberry muffins for a “What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?” recipe. Bottom: 9th-grader Jessica’s winning photo from the Lake Placid Institute’s photography contest.

As founding members of Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project and pioneers in edible education since the 1930s, North Country School and Camp Treetops have always recognized that how we engage with one another at our shared tables is just as valuable as what happens in our math or science classrooms. This week we continued our “What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?” series with a lesson in baking blueberry muffins from Camp Director Karen Culpepper. Learn more about this series at the bottom of this week’s blog post.

North Country School has always placed great value on participation in the arts, believing strongly that “art every day” is a core part of student life. This past week the NCS community was excited to learn that two of our 9th-grade students were honored in the Lake Placid Institute’s photo competition, 24 Hours: A Photographic interpretation of Life in the Adirondacks. Student Jessica’s dark room photograph: Liveliness, was awarded 1st Place Overall in the competition, while her classmate Bladen’s photograph: School Landscape, was awarded the honor of Lake Placid Institute Board Favorite.


Top: Teachers Larry and Melissa host the NCS Saturday Night Activity. Bottom: NCS Saturday Night Activity participants on Zoom. 

This week we in the NCS community continued to take time for fun, joy, and lighthearted play, both in- and out-of-doors. For the first installment of our live on Zoom Saturday Night Activity series, teachers Larry and Melissa led a House Olympics event for our on- and off-campus community members. The event had participants racing around their homes, completing various challenges for points, with on-campus residential house Cascade taking top honors at the end of the evening.

Top: 7th-grader Amon catches snow on his tongue. Middle: 6th-grader Kyle makes a campfire. Bottom: Teacher Jack hikes Balanced Rocks. 

Our teachers and students also spent time this week playing on and exploring our wilderness campus and the surrounding mountains. Our younger students enjoyed both the warmer temperatures and the periodic snow flurries this week, playing outside in the picturesque snow (and trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues), and venturing to our Crag Cabin to practice their campfire-building skills during a weekend trip. Teachers Jack and Elie made sure to enjoy the outdoors as well on their hike to nearby Balanced Rocks, where they took in the expansive mountainscape and the view of our own campus from the 3000-foot elevation ledge.


Top: 5th-grader Wyatt pulls his siblings in a wagon. Middle 1: 7th-grader Colton bikes in the woods. Middle 2: 6th-grader Will bakes at home. Middle 3: 7th-grader Daven practices guitar. Bottom: Siblings Josie and Tiago help with maple sugaring.

This week we were thrilled to receive more updates from our students who are spending time at home with their families around the country and the world. While we can’t be with our extended community in person, it has been a constant source of joy seeing our students practice their NCS skills and passions from their own homes.

5th-grader Wyatt sent updates from his family’s time at home together, which included active out-times in their yard, practicing his Edible Schoolyard cooking skills in the kitchen, and quality time spent with their pet bunnies. 7th-grader Colton’s out-time included some mountain biking on nearby wooded trails, and 6th-grader Will practiced his Edible Schoolyard skills by baking a cake with his younger brother. 7th-grader Daven continued his work for Joey’s music classes by playing guitar in the sunshine of his backyard, while on-campus staff child Josie helped the NCS farm crew at our maple sap boil by bottling some of the hot, newly finished syrup (and participated in a long-held NCS tradition by signing her filled jugs).


Top: The homemade chair falls through the ice. Middle: Camp Director Karen Culpepper swims in Round Lake. Bottom: Teacher Elie paddles in Round Lake.

Despite the scattered snow still predicted in our upcoming forecast—a staple of northern mountain life often until late May—spring has arrived on the North Country School and Camp Treetops campus. No sign of spring is more highly anticipated than when the ice is fully melted on Round Lake. This year the ice on our lake was officially out on April 7th, sending the chair built by students and teacher Larry into the cold, 32 degree water. Find out who won the ice-out contest by correctly guessing when the chair would fall through the ice on our Facebook page! (Winners, keep an eye out for some NCS swag in the mail.)

To celebrate the first day of an ice-free lake, Camp Treetops Camp Director Karen Culpepper, along with her cold-hardy family, took their annual first swim of the year. This is the fifteenth year of the Culpepper’s family tradition of swimming in the frigid, newly-melted lake, and the Culpeppers were joined by teacher Elie, who was out taking the first paddle of the year. Our campus community is looking forward to getting back in canoes and kayaks as temperatures continue to warm up on our mountain campus.

Top: Students Sky and Tony collect sap. Middle: Plants growing in the greenhouse. Bottom: Crocus flowers blooming by the barn. 

Just as springtime brings with it activities like canoeing and swimming that have been put away for the long winter, it also means a culmination of the cold-weather activities that have filled the past several months. Skis, ice skates, and snowboards have been moved back into storage, and this week we celebrated what will likely be the end of our maple sugaring season. Students and faculty helped collect the last of the maple sap, and we held our two final boils this week up in the sugarhouse. As daytime temperatures become warmer and nights no longer consistently dip below freezing, the maple sap that has been flowing through the trees will be used to create new maple leaves that will transform our surrounding landscape into a lush, green forest in the upcoming weeks.

Just as sugaring comes to a close, the greenhouse and gardens are showing new life. Seedlings have been growing at a breakneck pace over in the sunny warmth of our two greenhouses, and all around campus the daylily, tulip, daffodil, and crocus shoots have been poking their heads out of the thawed ground. This week brought with it a bit of hopeful beauty with the very first opened crocus blossoms over by our barnyard gate, and some vibrant Johnny jump-up flowers showing their colors in front of the Hill Houses.

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.


Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time.

Tuesdays: Creature Query Barn Manager Erica Burns will be answering questions about the animals on our farm using fun and educational videos. This week Erica taught us how to estimate the age of our horses using their teeth. 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 week we had a delicious blueberry muffin recipe from Camp Treetops Camp Director Karen Culpepper. 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. Jack will provide videos and information about birds being logged, as well as birds he is seeing on his daily birding adventures! Check it out on our Facebook page and on Tumblr.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. Last week’s lesson taught us how to ask someone how they are doing, as well as providing a warmhearted response to that inquiry.

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, Larry and English teacher Melissa Orzechowski co-hosted House Olympics. To be prepared for this week’s fun activity, you’ll need 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of tape, and one marshmallow.

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