Photo: A weekend trip group on the Mount Van Hoevenberg summit.

Creating memorable experiences in the outdoors has been a core tenet of the North Country School philosophy since our founding in 1938. Generations of NCS students have tales to tell about summiting Adirondack High Peaks in sub-zero temperatures, or working together with friends to set up camp on windy nights in the backcountry. In our mountain home, challenging weather conditions often signal the beginning of an adventure, not the end.

This past week brought with it blustery days, along with snow and ice. Our rugged, resourceful, and resilient community was ready for the challenge, bundling up in their winter gear and working together as they hiked to picturesque mountaintops, scaled frozen cliffs, and skied through our campus woods, all while following the Leave No Trace principles of planning ahead and preparing thoughtfully. Our young explorers helped each other at every turn, and joined those that came before them in cultivating the kinds of memories that last a lifetime.


Top: Lilly works with Justin and Lauren on their history poster. Middle 1: Lauren with her history poster. Middle 2: Wyatt, Emily, and Eleanor look at winter decoration ideas. Bottom: The 4th-grade class and their completed Winter Term bulletin board.

To start the Winter Term, our 8th-grade U.S. history students have been learning about the Progressive Era—a period of widespread activism that took place in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As part of their unit on the Suffrage Movement and passing of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, students created biographical banners celebrating important suffragists from the time.

Meanwhile, our youngest students began Winter Term by bringing their artistic creativity to their classroom spaces. The 4th-grade class worked together to design and assemble the new Winter Term bulletin board, which features their classroom’s owl mascot, a snowy wonderland, and a nod to the upcoming ski and snowboading season.

Top: Julian, Kate, and Laurie read poetry written by their peers. Middle 1: Peer feedback on Kate’s Blue poem. Middle 2: Patrick previews a new project in 7th-grade science class: Middle 3: Gerby looks at the graduated lines on a cylinder. Bottom: Students stand at graduated intervals of the Sledding Hill.

In 6th-grade English Language Arts (ELA) class, students have been learning about different forms of poetry, and about employing sensory imagery to better connect readers to their intended message. This week the class participated in a Poetry Showcase, where students toured their classroom gallery, reading one another’s writing and offering guided feedback on their work. We loved reading our students’ powerful words and seeing the thoughtful and supportive notes they left one another.

Our 7th-grade scientists bundled up for some hands-on experience in the outdoors during an innovative lesson about slope and speed. The class met up in their classroom to discuss different types of measurements using a graduated cylinder as an example, before heading over to our Sledding Hill to put their knowledge into practice. The class measured out evenly-spaced distances along the hill, and then filmed one another sledding down the hill. Using their calculations on distance and time, the class was able to determine the average speed of the sled runs—an impressive 13 miles per hour!


Top: Katie teaches Cherry how to knit. Middle 1: Elie explains rough-cut lumber to Matt and Roan. Middle 2: Nadya rolls out a clay slab in ceramics class. Middle 3: Sierra shows her darkroom photography students how to use their cameras. Bottom: 5th-grader Julia participates in photography class from her Ugandan home on the Nile River.

Art classes at North Country School change each term, providing our students the opportunity to explore new interests or delve deeper into their favorite creative avenues. This past week we watched our students begin the Winter Term by gaining foundational knowledge in their new artistic pursuits.

In fiber arts class, students began working on knitting projects that are made using wool from our sheep, while our woodshop students looked through the local and campus-grown lumber available for their winter projects. Ceramics students began working on their slab-building skills, and our darkroom photographers learned how to load film into their cameras.While most of our students are learning with us in person, the few that have not yet been able to return to campus are still involved in creative learning from their homes around the world. We’ve loved receiving updates from our off-campus students as they learn remotely, and can’t wait to see how their art projects highlight their specific surroundings and experiences.


Top: A weekend trip group goes ice climbing. Middle 1: Laurie ice climbs. Middle 2: Brothers Zachary and Jonas on Bear Den Mountain. Middle 3: Sierra shows Woods House students how to cross-country ski. Bottom: Cherry cross-country skis.

We arrived back to the North Country School campus last week to start Winter Term in true Adirondack form—with a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures. Though the calendar says it is still technically autumn, we’ve had a great time taking advantage of our wintery mountain conditions during weekend trips and out-times.

Our first ice-climbing group of the winter ventured down the road this past Saturday for an expedition that saw many of our students clipping into harnesses and donning crampons for the very first time. Several other weekend groups hiked around our beautiful surrounding wilderness, summiting peaks including Mount Van Hoevenberg, located directly across the street, as well as nearby Baxter and Bear Den mountains. Our own campus trails provided the perfect learning environment for our new cross-country skiers, and we celebrated many of our students as they took their first runs on Nordic skis. Congratulations to our cohort of brand new climbers and skiers! We are excited to see you learn and progress in these exciting new areas of interest throughout the term.


Top: Barn Manager Erica shows students at lunch council how to dress appropriately for cold weather. Middle 1: Erica bundled up for the barn. Middle 2: Garden Manager Kim harvests greenhouse lettuce. Middle 3: Students learn about the honey extractor. Bottom: Wyatt and Ryan take the goats for a walk during afternoon out-time.

At North Country School, we view our cold mountain weather as an important learning opportunity. Teaching students how to keep themselves and one another safe during the winter season is a crucial part of not just our Outdoor Program, but our Residential Program and Farm and Garden Program. This week Barn Manager Erica took the helm during lunch council for a fun lesson about how to properly layer outerwear for winter barn chores, showing students each clothing layer as she bundled up—way up—inside our warm dining room.

Winter farm and garden activities could be found all around campus this past week. Over in the greenhouse, Garden Manager Kim harvested some of the cold-hardy salad greens that have been featured lately in our dining room. Our 7th-grade students spent some time in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen learning about the process of extracting honey from beeswax frames. Meanwhile, one afternoon out-time brought us a favorite North Country School sighting—a campus goat walk. Seeing 4th-graders Wyatt and Ryan bundled up their winter gear as they walked our friendly goats, Dumbo and Bambi, through the snowy woods brought smiles to all of our faces.