students sit on a fencePhoto: The 5th-grade Writing class visits different spots on campus. 

Hands-on, place-based learning has been at the heart of North Country School’s educational philosophy since our founding in 1938. We provide students with opportunities not just to learn, but to learn by doing—both through lessons here on our mountain campus and by being immersed in the Adirondack wilderness that surrounds us. During a poetry writing lesson that took place this week, our 5th graders practiced observing and connecting with the environment using their five senses. Our community also had the chance to learn more about this coming Monday’s once-in-ten-lifetimes total solar eclipse during an exciting talk about the cosmos with St. Lawrence University physics professor Dr. Aileen O’Donoghue. Whether they are recording observations about the tiniest seeds or connecting what they’ve learned in science class to massive astronomical phenomena, it is always a joy to see the many ways our students find wonder in the world around them.

ACADEMICS

students make greenhouse observations a student looks at seeds a student records observationsan eclipse presentationa student helps an eclipse presentationTop: Liz talks to Leo about his greenhouse observations. Middle 1: Tahj makes greenhouse observations. Middle 2: Higgs records his greenhouse observations. Middle 3: Dr. Aileen O’Donoghue talks to the school community about the upcoming eclipse. Bottom. Owen helps Dr. O’Donoghue with an eclipse demonstration. 

Throughout the Spring Term, our 5th-grade Writing students have been learning about poetry and creative storytelling, and this week they put that knowledge into practice during a lesson on the five senses. The class visited various spots around campus, including the barnyard and greenhouse, where they recorded sensory observations and used descriptive language to explain what they’d experienced in those spots. The students then discussed how writing with details that evoke what the reader might see, hear, taste, smell, and feel can help create more vivid images and foster a deeper connection to their writing.

Meanwhile, our NCS community, along with the greater surrounding region, has been busy preparing for the total solar eclipse this coming Monday, April 8. Since the next total solar ellipse won’t take place in this part of the country for another 375 years, and the last one took place more than 400 years ago, this experience is truly a once-in-10-lifetimes opportunity. This past week we welcomed Dr. Aileen O’Donoghue, Professor of Physics at St. Lawrence University, to our campus to talk about the astronomical science behind solar eclipses. The interactive talk was both educational and inspiring, and we are just as excited as Dr. O’Donoghue to take part in the shared experience of totality!

To learn more about the upcoming total solar eclipse, and to watch a version of the wonderful presentation Dr. O’Donogue gave to our students, click here.

ARTS

a teacher helps a student make a basketstudents weave a basketa student makes a basketstudents play guitara student plays guitar Top: Katie shows Danny how to weave a basket. Middle 1: Yolanda and Alina look at an in-progress basket. Middle 2: May works on her basket. Middle 3: Tina and Melissa practice playing guitar together. Bottom: Orrin practices guitar. 

In the visual arts studio, students have also been making connections to our greater region as they learn how to make objects that have been a part of Adirondack history for many hundreds of years—the packbasket. Students are weaving small versions of these baskets, which were used by Indigenous groups native to the North Country to transport supplies through the woods. The completed baskets will become both beautiful and functional objects that our students can literally carry with them wherever their adventures take them. 

Over in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) our talented musicians have been likewise honing their skills while practicing another dexterous pursuit—playing the guitar. All week long the music rooms have been filled with the melodious sounds of students practicing duets with one another, and playing the impressive solo pieces that they’ve been learning during class time and independent lessons. 

OUTDOORS

students at a vistastudents practicing LNT principlesstudents on a sunset hikeTop: A Saturday hiking group takes in the view of Lower Ausable Lake and the Lower Great Range from Indian Head lookout. Middle: Students practice the Leave No Trace principle of respecting wildlife. Bottom: An overnight camping group goes on a sunset hike.

It was a phenomenal weekend for getting outdoors, taking in the local sights, and practicing the outdoor skills we’ve been learning all year. One hiking group trekked to Indian Head lookout—one of the most photographed spots in the Adirondack Park—and on the way they had the opportunity to honor the sixth Leave No Trace Principle, “Respect Wildlife,” when they encountered a herd of deer at the Ausable Club gate. The principle states that the proper way to observe wildlife is to remain at a distance so the animals are no larger than your thumb, and students practiced this important principle while watching the gentle animals from afar. Meanwhile, an overnight camping group enjoyed a sunset view of the surrounding mountains before heading home to cook a tasty dinner and sleep in one of our campus lean-tos. 

an ultimate frisbee practicean ultimate frisbee catchlooking for 9th-gradersa 9th-grade hiding spotTop: The ultimate frisbee team runs a drill. Middle 1: Ian catches a frisbee. Middle 2: Students look for 9th-graders during Sunday’s 9th-grade Senior Hunt. Matías hides during the Senior Hunt activity. 

Students got competitive during two different, and always exciting, benchmarks of the Spring Term—the first ultimate frisbee team practice and the Easter morning Senior Hunt. The ultimate team began their practice by building foundational skills, throwing, cutting, and learning the rules of the game, before putting those skills into practice during a scrimmage. 

On Sunday morning our students participated in the annual Senior Hunt, our springtime tradition during which our younger students search for 9th graders hidden throughout our Main Building and WallyPAC in lieu of looking for Easter eggs. This fun and memorable substitute for the classic Easter activity made for a joyful morning and we were so impressed by the creative spots our oldest students found to hide in. Our 9th graders Matt and Katie hid so well, in fact, that no one found them during the hour-long game!

FARM AND GARDEN

a group helps with sap collectiona student helps load the evaporator fireboxa student signs a maple syrup jugTop: Kim talks to the 4th, 5th, and 9th graders at the start of sap collection. Middle: Edison helps load the evaporator firebox during a sap boil. Bottom: Kingston signs his name on a maple syrup jug. 

The maple sugaring season is completely weather dependent, since sap stops flowing through the maple trees as soon as temperatures stay above freezing at night. Last year our North Country spring arrived early, which made for a very short sugaring season, but this year we’ve been lucky enough to have a season that has been going strong for the past month. This week students were able to participate in both a morning sap collection and an evening boil, and they were even there to help as maple syrup was being made. We have made more than 54 gallons of syrup this year, with more possible collection days on the horizon! As is the tradition, attendees signed the bottoms of the maple syrup jugs just before they were filled. Those signatures will tell us who helped with the process every time we open a new maple syrup jug in the upcoming year.

a student holds a lamb students play with a lamb a student on lamb watchTop: Eleanor holds a baby lamb. Middle: Lilly and Elizabeth visit a baby lamb. Bottom: Nadya sleeps in the barn during Lamb Watch. 

Over in the barnyard, the lambing season is still taking place, with the new lamb count reaching 16 lambs! All but three of our 14 ewes have given birth, and our students have been eagerly watching for the big moment during morning and afternoon barn chores, weekday out-time activities, and the 9th-grade Lamb Watch overnights, during which our oldest students sleep over in the barn to watch for lambing. While our 9th graders have yet to see a lamb born during their nighttime campouts, one group of students was present for the birth of baby lambs during their early morning chores this past Monday!