Photo: Colton constructs masks for the spring theater production of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

At North Country School, students take the lead in every aspect of our theater productions: not only acting, but also directing, stage managing, constructing sets, and designing costumes. This week, an exciting element of the spring production of Fantastic Mr. Fox began to take shape as the students in mask-making class made headway on the pieces that will transform our cast into the show’s menagerie of animal characters. The masks, custom-made to fit each actor, are constructed from repurposed cardboard boxes, and will be covered with paper-mâché made from old newspapers before they are painted to look like the foxes, rabbits, and badgers that star in the show. We can’t wait to see these reclaimed materials help bring the story to life in what is sure-to-be a “fantastic” end-of-term performance in May.


Top: Landon looks at a map of Oceania. Middle: Abel and Octa place their waka canoes on a map. Bottom: The 5th-grade social studies students’ waka canoes on a map of Oceania.

In 5th-grade social studies class, students have been learning about the six characteristics of civilization by focusing on the Māori, the Indigenous people of New Zealand. As part of their lesson this week, the class studied the methods the Māori people used to navigate the islands in Oceania by using the stars and the tides to inform their routes. To delve deeper into the lesson, each student then used natural and found materials to build their own miniature waka canoe, which they placed on an island on their map of Oceania. The class will present research on their chosen location to their peers using first-person letters written to one another discussing their travels and what they encountered when they explored their island.

Top: The 7th-grade English class watches a commercial. Middle: Cherry and Nadya discuss persuasive rhetoric with Isaac. Bottom: A table group discusses the “reflection” Town Meeting activity.

Meanwhile, our 7th-grade English students have been looking closely at modern-day media to gain a greater understanding of persuasive language. Over the course of the past few weeks, the class has been learning about how we use rhetoric to create convincing arguments, and this week the class watched, analyzed, and critiqued popular commercials to identify their use of different rhetorical styles. Next week, students will use the rhetorical methods they found to be most effective to make their own persuasive commercials.

Oftentimes learning involves looking closer at something we see each day, but other times it requires taking a step back to see the bigger picture. During a Town Meeting activity on Wednesday, groups engaged in Naikan, a reflective practice developed by Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshimoto Ishin. Naikan asks individuals to recognize our shared humanity by asking what we’ve both received from and given to others. The thoughtful conversations touched upon small acts, like holding a door open for someone, as well as more complex systems, like the many hands involved in bringing food to our plates each day. The activity was a wonderful reminder of the ways we are connected, and how our choices and actions have lasting impacts on the lives of others.


Top: Woodshop students design their cheese boards. Middle 1: Amon with his finished cheese board. Middle 2: Students in dance class. Middle 3: Dancers work through their original choreography. Bottom: Cherry makes masks for Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Over in the woodshop, students have been hard at work constructing beautiful cheese boards from local and campus lumber. This week, the class completed their first projects, which are made from solid pieces of wood, and began brainstorming their second, more intricate boards, which will be made from many pieces of wood glued together in original patterns. By first drawing their designs on graph paper, each student can make sure they count, measure, and cut the pieces correctly before beginning construction.

Our dance students have also been carefully planning out their Spring Term projects as they work together to choreograph a performance set to the soundtrack of the film, The Greatest Showman. The performance, which is being organized by our advanced dance class, will feature several dances that connect to one another. It will include a piece from the beginner dance class as well as pieces from students that have joined dance out-times throughout the term.

Meanwhile, masks for the cast of Fantastic Mr. Fox are nearly ready for the next layers of their construction—paper-mâché and paint. Students in the class have been hard at work carefully measuring and designing the unique headpieces that will help bring each one of these “fantastic” animals characters to life when they take to the stage in May.



Top: Students in Outdoor Leadership class take down a tent. Middle 1: Abigail packs up camping gear. Middle 2: A Saturday trip group at Allen Falls. Middle 3: A Saturday trip group hikes to Phelps Mountain in the rain. Bottom: A Saturday trip group makes a fire at the Copperas Pond lean-to.

Over the course of the term, the students in Outdoor Leadership class have been learning backcountry hiking and camping skills. This past Thursday morning, they set off for their camping trip to Crane Mountain to put those skills into practice. Earlier in the week, the class embodied the Leave No Trace principle of “planning ahead and preparing” by setting up all of their gear and testing out camp stoves. We’re excited to hear all about their adventures, which will include rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, camping, and learning Wilderness First Aid, once they return to campus on Saturday.

Other groups braved the rainy and chilly conditions on hikes around the Adirondack region. Most of our North Country lakes and rivers are melted and running strong, and students navigated these thawed waterways during a stop at picturesque Allen Falls, during a hike up nearby Phelps Mountain, and while checking in on our very own adopted lean-to at Copperas Pond. NCS students and CTT campers, in their role as lean-to adopters, check in on and help care for this shared resource several times a year, and this weekend a new group of our students was able to take part in this valuable experience. We’re proud to continue our involvement in this important community program and hope others enjoy spending time in this beautiful backcountry spot.

Read an article about NCS/CTT’s role as Copperas Pond lean-to adopters in Adirondac magazine here!



Top: Farm Intern Melody shows the 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard class the greenhouse. Middle 1: Lucy and Abel weed in the greenhouse. Middle 2: Tiago weeds in the greenhouse. Middle 3: Eleanor seeds a tray of plants. Bottom: Seedlings planted by Edible Schoolyard elective students.

Sugaring season came to a close this week as warmer temperatures brought the buds and leaves out around our mountain campus, but the next farm and garden season is already upon us. This past week, students in each of our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes spent time participating in two of the farm activities that require the most hands throughout the early spring: weeding and seeding.

Our 5th-grade students met in the greenhouses for a tour and a lesson on how we use the space to extend our harvest season and grow warmer-weather crops. Afterward, students helped pull the grass and wild chickweed that arrived in full force with the warmer temperatures. The rows the class helped clear of weeds will soon be planted with tomatoes and basil; by the end of the summer, the space will be filled to the brim with those delicious and fragrant crops.

Meanwhile, our youngest ESY students helped prepare soil blocks and planted tiny tomato seeds that will eventually fill those same greenhouse beds. The older students in our ESY elective class selected from a variety of seeds we grow on our farm and planted their own trays in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen. Each student has been tracking their seedlings’ growth progress, and Dragon’s Tongue beans have proven to be the clear winner in terms of height reached in the shortest time! Once the seedlings are strong enough and nighttime temperatures are a bit warmer, the class will transplant their plants to the Children’s Garden, where they can continue to watch their growth throughout the term.