students on a hikePhoto: Matías, Jerry, and Adrián on the trail to Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain. 

There is a lot to love about living in our Adirondack mountain home, and the ever-changing seasonal nature of how we recreate in the outdoors is at the top of that list. This week, we celebrated the change in seasons by lacing up our hiking boots and setting out on the trail, tuning up our bikes and practicing the first jumps of the year, and heading to our campus crag and readying its routes for spring climbing. And each day, as we returned to our favorite spring pursuits, we saw more and more signs of the season emerging across campus—from the tree branches budding with new leaves to the green shoots unfurling from the soil on the forest floor. Our outdoor enthusiasts certainly have a lot to look forward to as we move into the final month of the school year. May milestones on the horizon include the four-day canoe camping trip, our spring Outdoor Leadership overnights, and—an ongoing tradition for our graduating students—the annual 9th-grade hike up Cascade Mountain.

ACADEMICS

a student builds a wakaa student with a completed wakawaka materials Top: Liz helps Nina construct her Waka canoe. Middle: Tahj’s Waka canoe. Bottom: Waka canoe instructions. 

In 5th-grade Social Studies class, students have been learning about ancient civilizations of the Pacific, and this week the group expanded their understanding during a lesson on Polynesian wayfinding. Students first learned how ancient Polynesians voyaged across the Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles using only clues from nature including the position of the sun, stars, and moon, as well as wind patterns and ocean currents. Each student then built their own model of a Polynesian canoe, called a Waka. Each part of the boat represented a different aspect of their identity, with the hull representing their ancestors, cross beams representing their families, the deck representing their personal interests, and the sails representing their hopes and dreams.

students talk about Earth Day a student-led Earth Day presentation students make Earth Day badgesTop: Environmental Science students give an Earth Day presentation. Middle: Laurie talks about Earth Day. Bottom: Ziggy, Savannah, and Adrián fill out Earth Day badges with information about their personal climate goals.  

To recognize Earth Day, students in Environmental Studies class led a community activity this Wednesday morning during which they discussed their collective knowledge about climate change, factors that affect our environment in both positive and negative ways, and the impact young people can have on the world. It was great to see our young scientists lead a thoughtful discussion about these complicated issues and express their own commitment to caring for the planet we share. 

ARTS

a student drum circlelearning drumsstudents play music togetherstudents play music outsideTop: The Exploration of Musical Instruments class plays the drums with guidance from staff member Dian Bah. Middle 1: Danny plays the drums. Middle 2: The 6th-grade dance class practices their collective rhythm. Bottom: Mata and Anna Olivia practice collective rhythm.   

This week students across our performing arts program took part in two different percussion-based lessons. In Exploration of Music class, students had the exciting opportunity to work with NCS staff member Dian Bah, a master drummer who grew up in Guinea and now leads the popular Badenyah Drum and Dance troupe right here in the Adirondacks. Dian taught the class about the history of drumming in different parts of Africa, and he led the group in a drumming activity during which they worked on different rhythmic patterns together and individually. The 6th-grade dancers continued developing their collective rhythmic awareness by using different percussive tools to play with pauses, rests, accents, and syncopation—all important elements of instinctive dance. 

OUTDOORS

a bike riding group hiking on a bridgestudents with a rainbowcleaning a rock wallTop: A weekend trip group goes mountain biking. Middle 1: A hiking group explores the bridges around Avalanche Lake. Middle 2: Students enjoy a rainbow over the Upper Field. Bottom: Outdoor Leadership students help clean the NCS crag for the climbing season. 

It was a quintessential Spring Term week in our outdoor program, with our students taking part in many of the activities that mark this transitional time of year. One Saturday group got out on their mountain bikes for the first time this year during an all-day bike tour that took them to nearby Hardy Road, the Three Sisters Preserve trails, and the Wilmington Bike Park, while another group explored one of the High Peaks’ most whimsical constructions—the Hitch-Up Matilda bridges in Avalanche Pass. There was also whimsy to be had in our own backyard, with the typical April showers we expect during this part of the season leading to another expected, though never less exciting, sight of a rainbow arching over our beautiful mountain campus. 

Meanwhile, students in our ODL program put into practice the conversations they regularly have about how to minimize our impact on the different places we recreate in as the group headed to the NCS crag to clean the wall for the climbing season. The group first talked about the “whys” of climbing-wall cleaning—to make the wall dryer and therefore make climbing safer—before taking part in the “hows” of doing this outdoor work, which involved carefully considering how to remove moss and lichen from routes while impacting the smallest amount of space in the most minimal of ways. 

FARM AND GARDEN

working on a mushroom loginoculating mushroom logs
a mushroom loga horseback riding groupa student with a horseTop: Edible Schoolyard students inoculate a mushroom log. Middle 1: Emily, Eleanor, and Cat inoculate a mushroom log. Middle 2: A shiitake log. Middle 3: Students go for a horseback ride. Bottom: Jenny participates in a riding lesson. 

When we talk about the categories of foods we eat, we often forget about one that is both ever-present and incredibly impactful—fungi! Different types of fungi are integral to our larger food system and. Besides producing an enormous variety of mushrooms, they also show up in the form of yeast, which ferments our breads, sauces, pickles, and countless other staple foods for people all around the world and throughout history. This week several of our Edible Schoolyard classes helped inoculate logs with shiitake mushroom plugs before covering those plugs with wax. The mycelium—which is the vegetative part of the fungus as opposed to the mushroom, which is actually the fruit—will grow and spread within the logs over the next several months, and hopefully produce this delicious and prized food sometime next year.  

Meanwhile, riding season has officially begun, and this week students got out on the trails and in the riding ring during classes, afternoon out-times, and weekend trips. Our avid riders have been doing a great job helping our horses get back into the habit of being groomed, tacked up, and ridden on our trails. We look forward to seeing how quickly our equestrians’ skills progress over the next month.