Grace reads a school book from home. Photo credit: Hudson Stephens.

Another week has come to a close at North Country School, and today we are feeling grateful for the support and patience we’ve received from parents and students as everyone has adjusted to distance learning and virtual classrooms. As you can imagine, implementing our hands-on, place-based academic philosophy has inherent challenges when many of our students can’t be here, in this place, with us. Thankfully the creativity, dedication, and resourcefulness of our students and teachers has shone through and made an unexpected transition flow seamlessly. We believe that the community we build here extends beyond our 220-acre campus, and the strength with which our community members have adapted to the pandemic crisis speaks greatly to that belief. Thank you.

With the uncertainty of current events, we’d like to remind you that we’re in this together. As always, we will share what our students are doing, both on and off campus, in this weekly blog. In addition, this week we launched a new “Connecting With Our Community” learning and activity series, which we hope will help keep us all connected in this difficult time. The first installment of our live Saturday Night Activity is tomorrow at 8 p.m. Use this Zoom link to watch or participate in the activity from home.

To learn more about the “Connecting With Our Community” series, check out the full schedule at the end of the blog. We would like to encourage all of you to keep engaging with us by sharing photos, messages, or videos by email or on social media. We hope someday soon we will all be together again.

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: Bryan reads to 4th- and 5th-graders. Middle1: Meredith teaches ESL with a game. Middle 2: Sky does math work on Zoom. Middle 3: Max teaches his class live on Zoom. Bottom: Garth draws a math lesson on Zoom.

Throughout this extended period of distance learning, our academic teachers continue to find new ways to connect to our students. Caroline continued her English lesson on story analysis by bringing in guest readers including Dean of Students Bryan, Garden Manager Tess, and teachers Larry and Elie to read aloud to her 4th- and 5th-grade students. Fellow language teacher Meredith played a fun word game with her ESL class via Zoom. While students attended math lessons from their on-campus and off-campus homes, teachers in our math department tried out different dynamic methods of delivering curriculum and engaging their classes. Max led a live lesson with his 6th- and 7th-grade students from his classroom, while Garth used projected drawings to talk through geometry problems with his class.


Top: Faculty child and 8th grader Ella works on stagecraft. Middle1: Helen draws for her 2D art class. Middle 2: Rebecca throws ceramics on the wheel. Bottom: Tony records music for Joey’s music class.

The importance of art in childhood development has been part of North Country School’s core belief system since its inception in 1938, and that importance has only been underscored during this challenging time. Art can serve as a method of self-expression, a way to translate complicated feelings and thoughts, a release of tension, and a way to focus in meditation. As we settle into the new structure of education in this unique and difficult moment, NCS continues to believe in “art every day.” We will always prioritize art’s role in our students’ lives, whether they are on campus or at their respective homes around the world.

On-campus students took advantage of our art and tech spaces this week, taking a break from academic work to explore different modes of creativity. Ella continued work on theater set pieces in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPac). Helen spent Sunday afternoon drawing in the studio art space for her 2D art class, while Rebecca spent that time working on her pottery skills in the neighboring ceramics studio. As part of a musical collaboration project for one of music teacher Joey’s performance classes, Tony spent an afternoon recording himself playing piano in the WallyPAC music production studio. Joey will be combining students’ separately-recorded instrumental parts into a collaborative song that celebrates our ability to create art together despite the physical distance that may separate us.

Top: Courtney teaches a theater class over Zoom with her children, Claire and Eleanor. Middle: Courtney’s theater class. Bottom: 7th grader Inyene learns she won a writing contest.

Art teachers at NCS have been making creative connections to off-campus students as well, encouraging relaxation and self-expression through art regardless of their location. Theater teacher Courtney led her class through the movement exercise Stop, Clap, Jump, Go this week via Zoom, with some help from her own children, Rosalie, Eleanor, and Claire. The fun game got everyone in the class out of their seats for some all-important silly play.

Courtney also had the honor of letting 7th-grader Inyene know that she was the winner of a creative writing theater competition this week. Inyene and her family were excited to learn that her original play, The Nerds, was selected from over 40 plays as the winner of the Pendragon Theatre’s Middle School Young Playwrights Festival competition. Her play will be performed with a full cast virtually via Zoom in late April.


Top: Hiking Balanced Rocks. Middle 1: Koga and Kyle play outside. Middle 2: Sky plays tennis. Middle 3: Sally plays soccer on the Upper Field. Bottom: Isaac “Rickrolls” his students over Zoom on April Fools’ Day.

Students and teachers at North Country School continued to get outside and play this week, taking advantage of warmer temperatures and the spectacular sanctuary of our surrounding landscape. A small group took a hike to nearby Balanced Rocks, enjoying the empty trail and expansive ledge, where they took in the view of campus far below. Our own 220-acre campus also served as its own playground, with students playing Frisbee on our grassy hill, and playing games of tennis and soccer on the Upper Field beside our Lake Hill. And since not all play needs to be outdoors, English teacher Isaac took the opportunity provided by April Fools’ Day to engage in a bit of lighthearted silliness with his class, beginning his Zoom lesson by “Rickrolling” in character to the music video “Never Gonna Give You Up.”


Top: 8th grader Grace works on her fiber arts project at home. Photo credit: Hudson Stephens. Middle 1: 5th grader Wyatt shows a birthday sign over Zoom. Middle 2: 6th grader Samantha has “out-time” in her yard. Bottom: 5th grader Justin shows his class a lost tooth over Zoom.

Like much of the world right now, we at the NCS campus miss the friends and families that we can’t see in person each day, but we’ve been lucky to receive many exciting and heartwarming updates from those students and families who have been spending time together in their own homes. This week we learned that 8th-grader Grace has been working on knitting projects using skills taught to her by NCS fiber arts teacher Noni. Wyatt, along with his 4th- and 5th-grade classmates, made “Happy Birthday” signs for NCS Learning Skills Coach Kathi, who has been working with the class remotely from her North Country home. Sixth-grader Samantha sent in photos of her family participating in some active out-time activities that included getting out on their trampoline, and our youngest students, along with their teachers Caroline and Gavi, celebrated together from their homes around the world as 5th-grader Justin showed off his newly lost tooth.


Top: The sugarbush and the mountains. Middle 1: Farm intern Nick collects sap. Middle 2: Sap running through a spile. Middle 3: Horses in the pasture. Bottom: The goats say hello to our chickens.

Warm temperatures and sunny days have not only been a source of joy for us on the North Country School campus this week, they have also provided the perfect conditions for one of our long-held spring traditions—maple sugaring. The sap was flowing strong in our sugarbush all week, with over 1,000 gallons of sweet sap collected by our community members. The full buckets of sap were emptied into the sap collection tank and brought to the sugarhouse, where it will be boiled down into syrup this coming weekend. Each gallon of maple syrup takes 40 gallons of sap (and a great deal of work and time) to produce, and our hard-working farmers have already produced over 40 gallons of syrup this season.

The spring days have been a delight, not only to the people who live here, but also to the farm animals that share our mountain campus. Our chickens, sheep, goats, and horses have spent more time venturing out of their barn spaces this past week, basking in the sun together. We, along with our barnyard friends, look forward to more time spent out-of-doors in the upcoming weeks as the mountains become greener all around us, as the buds begin to open on the birch and poplar trees, and as the bluebirds and robins return to their beautiful Adirondack home.

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 mountain campus community throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach back 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.

Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?- Our 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 past week’s lesson taught us how to make homemade flour tortillas! Check it out 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 the word “wind,” as well as a poignant Japanese proverb using that word.

Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity- Teacher Larry Robjent, along with other NCS faculty, will be hosting fun activities similar those typically held on campus each Saturday evening with students. Participate live from home with your own families. Check out this Saturday’s activity, House Olympics, on Facebook and connect via Zoom!

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