Photo: Mateo and Amon paddle on the Outdoor Leadership camping trip.

Each term, the students in North Country School’s Outdoor Leadership Program have the opportunity to put the wilderness skills they’ve learned into practice during a multi-day backcountry camping trip. This past weekend, the group ventured out to beautiful Crane Mountain to gain hands-on experience rock climbing, canoeing, using a map and compass, leading one another on day-hikes, and learning Wilderness First Aid. After three days away from campus, the students returned excited to tell their peers about their many adventures. We’re so proud of our resilient outdoor leaders for working together and supporting one another as they completed this important milestone in their NCS experience.


Top: The 4th-grade social studies class builds a dam in the dirt. Middle 1: Ryan makes a clay chess piece in social studies class. Middle 2: Ryan’s elephant chess piece. Middle 3: Cherry gives a presentation on Elizabeth Palmer Peabody in history class. Bottom: The 7th-grade history class watches a presentation.

Throughout the Spring Term, the 4th-grade social studies class has been studying the Indus River Valley civilizations, including Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, which began developing around 5000 BCE. In a lesson that expanded their understanding about the early irrigation systems that channeled snowmelt from the Himalayas into the Indus River Valley, the class visited the edge of our campus woods to build model dams and irrigation ditches that they will observe as this week’s sudden snowfall begins to melt. Back in the classroom, the group turned their attention toward Harappan games, which include some of the earliest examples of dice and chess sets (known then as chaturanga) by making their own animal game pieces out of clay from our ceramics studio. The pieces depicted animals familiar to the class, like elephants, as well as less-common animals like zebu, which is a relative of our modern-day cows.

Meanwhile, our 7th-grade history class has been learning about more recent examples of influential individuals and groups during their lessons on the Transcendentalists of the 19th century. Transcendentalism focuses on the intrinsic goodness of humanity and the quest for individual perfection. The school of thought was a core belief of writers including Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau, along with figures who inspired structural change like Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, founder of the first English-language kindergarten in the United States. The students delivered engaging presentations that included background information about their specific subject, and delved into the lasting impacts of their subject on today’s society.


Top: Grace, Laurie, and Dexter with their completed collaborative painting. Middle 1: Emma centers clay on the pottery wheel. Middle 2: Joel and James trim pottery. Middle 3: Trimming a bowl on the pottery wheel. Middle 4: The 4th-grade photography class takes nature photos. Bottom: An out-time group visits and photographs the baby goats.

Down in our studio spaces, Spring Term projects are taking shape. In 6th-grade art class, everyone was excited to see the completed results of their collaborative painting project. The finished sunflower panels will be displayed alongside our older students’ collaborative iris painting in upcoming weeks. Next door in our pottery studio, students in ceramics class were hard at work mastering their foundational skills on the wheel, learning how to center clay, and trimming the bowls and mugs that will soon be fired into bisqueware in the kiln.

Meanwhile, our digital photographers spent the week looking for the perfect shot while they explored our campus woods and barnyard. The 4th-grade photography class practiced their close-up photo skills while getting shots of wildlife in the grass near the Frog Pond, while our older students visited the newest addition to our farm—two adorable baby goats that were born late last week—for their own barnyard photo shoot.


Top: Students in Outdoor Leadership class on their camping trip. Middle: Paddling on the Outdoor Leadership camping trip. Bottom: Rock climbing on the Outdoor Leadership camping trip.

The Outdoor Leadership Program at NCS teaches our students the knowledge and skills to safely and responsibly enjoy the outdoors. Each term, the students enrolled in Outdoor Leadership class spend several days applying what they’ve learned during a several-day camping adventure in the backcountry. This past weekend, our Spring Term Outdoor Leadership students followed in the footsteps of the Fall and Winter Term groups during their own three-day outdoor practicum trip. The group traveled to nearby Crane Mountain—an Adirondack peak with a pond located part of the way up to the summit—where they navigated terrain using a map and compass, paddled canoes under bright blue skies, rock climbed up steep cliffs, learned Wilderness First Aid skills and practiced First Aid scenarios as a group, and built campfires using a flint and steel. It was a great trip all around, and will surely be an experience these students reflect back upon as they explore wild spaces for years to come.

Top: Roan, Yehor, Heqing, and Elie visit Emet the sap-bucket sculpture during an out-time walk. Middle 1: Remi plays guitar by Round Lake during out-time. Middle 2: Joel catches a Frisbee during out-time. Middle 3: The Teaching and Learning Kitchen in the snow. Middle 4: Lilly skis to work. Bottom: Jeff snowboards during out-time.

It was a tale of two seasons on our mountain campus this week, with perfect spring days filled with sun and warm weather, followed by freezing winter temperatures and more than a foot of new snowfall. Our students and faculty took advantage of the unpredictable April conditions by partaking in as many of our favorite activities as possible. During the first half of the week, we enjoyed exploring campus trails, playing games of Ultimate Frisbee on the Upper Field, and playing music while building sandcastles by Round Lake. The latter part of the week saw our community sledding on our campus hills, building snow villages, and pulling skis and snowboards back out from storage for what might be the last Ski Hill days of the season. It was a great reminder that spring in the mountains brings surprises around every turn, and that there are countless ways to have fun in the outdoors.


Top: Edible Schoolyard students transplant strawberry plants to the Forest Garden. Middle 1: Kate transplants a strawberry plant. Middle 2: Leah, Grace, and Garden Manager Kim clean up the raspberry canes. Middle 3: Cherry and Ariana lead Tucker the horse. Bottom: Nadya rides Tucker the horse.

We were able to get in plenty of springtime activities in our gardens and barnyard before the snow hit this week, both during Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes and during out-times and weekend trips. Over in the Forest Garden, students helped transplant strawberries into the raised “hugelkultur” beds that will trap and absorb rainwater and snowmelt, minimizing the need for additional irrigation. Forest gardens are a type of growing area that utilize hardy native plants and natural ecosystems to cultivate food with minimal intervention, and this section of our farm features a wide variety of berries, fruiting trees, and perennial herbs. Students also worked alongside our farmers and ESY teachers to prune apple trees and clear out raspberry canes, which will help encourage these plants to produce more fruit in the upcoming months.

Over in the barnyard, our spring horseback riding season began in earnest this weekend, with a student group spending the day with our herd this past Saturday. Students worked together to groom our horses, learned how to “tack up” each horse by putting on their saddles and reins, and worked on their equestrian skills in the riding ring. Once this week’s snow melts, we’ll be able to take longer trail rides through our winding campus woods and watch as leaf buds open and wildflowers bloom all around us.