Photo: A group of students at the summit of Mt. Marcy.
Providing students with the time to explore the wild spaces around them here in the Adirondacks, and the opportunity to share those experiences with one another, has been a core aspect of the North Country School philosophy since our founding in 1938. Generations of alumni have countless tales of epic hikes along mountain ridgelines in blustery conditions, evening paddles along winding waterways as the fall leaves change, and bushwhack adventures in search of native flora and fauna.
This past weekend a group of current students joined the many alumni who have come before them in accomplishing an impressive feat for adventurers of any age—summiting Mount Marcy, the tallest mountain in New York State. The group supported one another throughout their two days of hiking and camping in the backcountry, culminating in a joyous celebration at the top of the towering 5,343 foot summit. We are so proud of our young hikers for achieving this goal, all while exhibiting the leadership, flexibility, positivity, and teamwork needed to responsibly recreate in the outdoors.
Top: Meredith talks to the Japanese class about seasonal foods and activities. Middle: Students in Japanese class research regional celebrations. Bottom: Zephyr and Eva learn about local foods.
After a long winter, spring has finally sprung in the Adirondack Park. Students in our Japanese class marked the beginning of spring’s highly anticipated arrival during a lesson exploring seasonal cultural celebrations in Japan and across the world. Using everything from our maple sugaring season here in the North Country, to the Japanese practice of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, as examples, the class learned about food, activities, and other traditions associated with various cultures. During class they also focused on Japanese vocabulary, including words like snow and hot cocoa for winter, grass and rain for spring, ice cream and sunshine for summer, and leaves and apple cider for fall. The students—who hail from a variety of countries around the world—then talked about different culinary dishes that people eat in the places they feel most connected to during certain times of year.
Top: Leo measures a germinated bean. Middle: Tahj charts bean germination. Bottom: The 4th-grade science class plants their germinated beans.
Our 4th-grade scientists also marked the start of spring in a lesson that invited them to take a closer look at how plants grow. Throughout the year, the class has been studying seasonal changes and learning how to collect data around those shifts. During Spring Term they have continued these lessons by focusing on the different parts of seeds and their functions. Last week, each student received two different types of beans that we grow on our farm and placed them in a variety of conditions to see what factors would impact germination, or sprouting. They then developed hypotheses for what amount of light, moisture, and heat would lead to the best results. Over the past week, the class collected data about the beans that sprouted, noting that the beans in darker, warmer environments were the most successful, before planting their sprouted beans in soil for the next stage of their observations.
Top: Katie talks to Enola about jewelry designs. Middle 1: Kate uses jump rings to make jewelry. Middle 2: A set of jump ring bracelets and earrings. Middle 3: Jack throws on the pottery wheel. Bottom: A handbuilt ceramic sculpture waits to be bisque fired.
The students in Wearable Art class use a variety of different materials to make beautiful and functional pieces, including woven belts, knit hats, and, as they did this week, intricately designed jewelry. Using metal loops called jump rings and small tools, students manipulated and attached these rings to one another, creating intricate patterns that were then connected to hooks and clasps. The final pieces will be displayed around our building gallery spaces in the upcoming weeks, before becoming one-of-a-kind wearable keepsakes.
Meanwhile, ceramic students continued to hone their skills working with clay. Some of our potters took to the wheel to make kitchen items like bowls, mugs, teacups, and teapots that they will be able to use in their homes. Others practiced handbuilding techniques including slab work, pinching, coil, and carving to create detailed figurines that exude personality and whimsy. Soon the pieces will be bisque fired, glazed, and fired a second time, creating vibrant, colorful, and long-lasting works of art.
Top: Students perform a foundational plié at the top of Mt. Marcy. Middle 1: Hiking on Mt. Marcy. Middle 2: Matías at the summit of Mt. Marcy. Bottom: The Mt. Marcy hiking group camping in a lean-to.
North Country School is lucky enough to be located only a few miles down the road from the Mt. Marcy trailhead, and this past weekend a group of students had the opportunity to hike to the top of New York State’s tallest peak while on a two-day overnight trip. The group set off on Friday evening and set up camp at a lean-to near the base of the mountain, where they prepared farm-fresh meals that included NCS eggs, chicken stock, and greenhouse greens. The next morning, they awoke to bluebird skies, mild weather, and positive attitudes, all ideal conditions for a summit day. Everyone supported one another throughout the weekend, and celebrated at the top with a foundational plié—a ballet movement that Everest climber and professional ballet dancer Dom Mullins taught the students when he visited campus recently. During his visit, Dom explained that the plié is a process, not a destination, and that he applies that concept to how he views experiences in his life. Congratulations to our hikers for this incredible accomplishment, and to siblings Matías and Vivián for completing the NCS 10 hiking challenge by reaching the summit of this spectacular mountain!
*Note: The NCS 10 Challenge includes Mt. Marcy and the other nine highest points visible from the NCS campus, Rand Ridge and Trouble viewpoint, as well as Pitchoff, Cascade, Porter, Phelps, Big Slide, Algonquin, and Wright mountains.
Top: Octa, Laurie, and Kate explore the caves around the Copperas Pond Lean-to. Middle 1: Andrew relaxes in a field at the Heaven Hill Trails. Middle 2: A Saturday photo hike. Bottom: Val with a darkroom camera on a Saturday photo hike.
Other students spent the weekend taking advantage of the many things our campus and surrounding region have to offer beyond towering summits. One group hiked to the Copperas Pond Lean-to, which NCS and Camp Treetops adopted in 2017 and check in on several times a year, while another relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine while exploring local trail systems. A third group captured their surroundings while on a campus walk with film cameras. The students will develop their rolls of film in our darkroom in order to create prints depicting images taken from their excursion, honing a skill that many photographers no longer have the opportunity to practice, but that is still going strong on our campus.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Barn Manager Erica leads a farm-focused Town Meeting. Middle: A group works on their farm poetry. Bottom: Photos of garlic and a greenhouse used in the Town Meeting activity.
Each Wednesday we gather in the Dining Room after breakfast for our weekly Town Meeting. This week’s activity, led by Barn Manager Erica and our farm interns, allowed students to think creatively while reflecting on the many elements that make up our barnyard and gardens. Each group received three photos of something on our farm, like our garlic crop, flock of sheep, greenhouses, or eggs, and brainstormed words they associated with the subject in the photo. They then assembled the words into poems they recited for the rest of the room, who guessed the subject of their photos based on their writing. It was a fun activity that allowed everyone to work together and reflect on how writing can elicit emotion and connect readers and listeners to a subject.
Top: Garden Manager Kim diagrams the different edible parts of a plant. Middle 1: Emily, Joel, and Emma plant seeds in the greenhouse. Middle 2: Radish seeds. Middle 3: Adela harvests greens in the greenhouse. Bottom: Tomato seedlings growing in the greenhouse.
Now that warmer temperatures have arrived in the North Country, students in our Edible Schoolyard program have the chance to help plant this year’s crop of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. This past week one of our Edible Schoolyard classes met Garden Manager Kim in the front greenhouse to learn more about the different edible parts of plants. After learning about roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and leaves, the class helped to seed our annual crop of radishes. They then visited the back greenhouse, where the greens that we overwintered are still growing strong. After tasting the cilantro, kale, spinach, and tatsoi that have been supplementing our meals throughout the cold season, the group was able to harvest some of the tasty greens to make their own bright green smoothies. In the coming month as temperatures continue to rise, classes will help transplant some of the tiny seedlings that fill the greenhouse tables into larger pots, and eventually bring them outside for planting in our fields that are tended to by campers throughout the summer.