students carry the yule logPhoto: Bennett and Evalyn carry the holiday yule log. 

This week we said goodbye to our students and headed off for Winter Break with a seasonal tradition we look forward to each December—our annual Holiday Banquet. During Wednesday Homenight our community gathered in the dining room for this festive and fancy meal that recognizes the holiday season, the many places that we call home, and the various winter traditions we celebrate across our community. The event featured dishes from around the world, all made with ingredients sourced from our own backyard, as well as a community sing-and-dance-along that always gets us on our feet! The beginning of the week saw a snowstorm that brought significant snowfall and offered the first real glimpse of the deep powder we often return to after the New Year. We look forward to returning in January for the continuation of our Winter Term, Whiteface Days, where we visit our local ski mountain once a week for special half-day programming, and the official opening of our own campus Ski Hill!

We wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season spent with loved ones. This Week at NCS will return with more updates from our mountain campus in January 2024.

ACADEMICS

presenting a math town meeting a math town meeting playing a history game a history boardgameTop: Dave runs a math Town Meeting. Middle 1: Students work out a math problem. Middle 2: Students play a history board game. Bottom: Hazel and Julia play a history board game. 

This past week our students had the opportunity to work creatively and think about the world in outside-of-the-box ways both during our weekly Town Meeting and in their 8th-grade History class. At Town Meeting, math teacher Dave used classic geometry—along with bubbles!—to determine the best way to construct a network between three, four, and five locations. This problem was tackled in the earlier years of air travel as airlines had to determine the most efficient ways to run phone lines between airport hubs. Meanwhile, our 8th-grade History students finished up their unit on expansion and imperialism that occurred throughout the ages by creating original games to test the knowledge of their peers. Students came up with objective questions and made their own variations of Jeopardy, Memory, and Chutes and Ladders, before competing against one another as they tested out these fun new study guides.

a soil science lesson a student learns about soil a soil sampleTop: Kelly and Kim lead a soil science lesson. Middle: Rafa looks at soil. Bottom: A soil sample from the NCS farm.

In Environmental Science, students connected what they’ve been learning in class to our own NCS farm. The class has been studying the physical and chemical properties of soil, and this week the group was joined by Garden Manager Kim to test a sample from our garden beds to determine its texture and pH. After running a few tests, the students discussed why understanding the properties of soils is an important part of managing soil health and fertility, and why we carefully manage our farm’s soil health in order to both grow food successfully and to continue to thoughtfully steward the land. 

ARTS

rolling ink on a print making a print a student making a print Top: Emily works on a print. Middle: Hansen presses ink onto a page. Bottom: Mata rolls out ink colors. 

This week our 6th-grade artists began learning the foundations of printmaking as they worked on their technicolor notecard projects. Each student selected a color palette for their background, then they used a smooth rubber stamp to press their chosen colors onto a piece of paper. They will then carve designs into a different stamp, coat that stamp in a contrasting color, and press the stamp down on top of their (now dry) background to create layered, decorative notecards and stationary. 

narrating the 9th-grade play watching the 9th-grade playthe 9th-grade playTop: Matías narrates the 9th-grade holiday mini-play. Middle 1: Students watch the 9th graders perform. Middle 2: The 9th graders perform. Bottom: Roan, Kevin, Melissa, and Tina in costume.  

Our 9th-grade class took part in a revived NCS tradition this week: putting on a short “mini-play” for their younger peers before our annual Holiday Banquet. The group met in the Dining Room foyer to act out the charming story Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry, which tells the story of a repeatedly repurposed tree that brings joy to a wide variety of humans and woodland creatures during the holidays. It was a delightful show, and a great way to start off our festive holiday meal. 

OUTDOORS

snow on the lakea student goes sledding students sled down a hilllooking for animal tracks making a campfireTop: Snow and ice on Round Lake. Middle 1: Higgs pulls a sled up the Lake Hill. Middle 2: Sledding down the Lake Hill. Middle 3: Coco and Riiley make a campfire. Bottom: Students look for animal tracks in the snow. 

This week served as a great reminder of why we love winter here in our mountain home, and of all we have to look forward to once we return to school in January. The fresh snowfall created the perfect base for some champion Lake Hill sledding, complete with pink and golden sunset hues, while the chilly temperatures provided the perfect reason to practice our campfire skills in the many fire pits and woodstoves around campus. Meanwhile, Monday’s foot of new, fluffy powder inspired us to get out our snowshoes and go looking for animal tracks on the freshly covered trails! We loved finding the deer, squirrel, and snowshoe hare footprints that dotted the woods as we left our own wide, flat snowshoe footprints behind. 

FARM AND GARDEN

students make donutsa student fills a jelly donuthomemade donutsTop: Ian, Hudson, and Rosalie fry jelly donuts in Edible Schoolyard class. Middle: Alina fills a donut with homemade jam. Bottom: Finished jelly donuts. 

Our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes often dive into food history by learning about and preparing a variety of seasonal dishes eaten by people around the world. This week our ESY II class focused on winter holiday celebrations by making homemade jelly donuts, or sufganiyot, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. After learning about the connection between the holiday and eating foods fried in oil, the class used the homemade jams they whipped up earlier in the term to fill their freshly fried donuts.

reading to a chickenreading to pigsreading to a horseTop: Cat reads to a chicken in the barn office. Middle: Evalyn reads to the pigs in the barn. Bottom: Hazel reads to the horses in the barn. 

Over in the barnyard, we saw a delightful new out-time tradition start up called “Barnyard Book Club,” which gives students a chance to read some of their favorite stories aloud to our barnyard creatures. It was a wonderful—not to mention adorable—way for our students to interact with our farm animals while participating in a beloved NCS pastime that never fails to make us smile: reading books in the outdoors. 

CELEBRATING THE SEASON

holiday table table signserving holiday foodholiday dancingholiday dancing holiday dancingTop: The Clark House table at the Holiday Banquet. Middle 1: The Bramwell House table sign. Middle 2: Meredith and Isaac serve food from around the world. Middle 3: Dancing at the Holiday Banquet. Middle 4: Jenny, Val, Dexter, and Myles dance as “a partridge in a pear tree.” Bottom: Kevin dances as “five golden rings.”

Before we head off for the December break each year, the North Country School community gathers to celebrate the season with our Holiday Banquet. The banquet is a true feast, one that highlights both the many different places around the world that we all call home as well as our shared home here in the Adirondack Mountains. This year our wonderful kitchen staff prepared a meal that included dishes from South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Guatemala, Tanzania, China, Ghana, and Spain, and highlighted NCS-grown and locally sourced ingredients including carrots, potatoes, eggs, and beef. 

We ended the festive celebration with a rousing all-school sing-and-dance-along performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas, during which students and teachers acted out the different days by table group. It was an event filled with smiles and laughter, joy and appreciation, and was—as always—the perfect way to celebrate the season before heading our separate ways. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to coming back together at the start of the New Year in 2024!