Photo: Duncan and River on the sledding hill.

There is no doubt that the North Country School campus has looked considerably different this December than in years past. The weeks between our Thanksgiving break and winter break are usually filled with long-held holiday traditions including special community meals, singalongs, and festive gatherings. Though this year we participated in a very different start to our winter season, our community’s flexibility and creativity shone through during our restructured Wintersession programming. These past two weeks have been a time filled with connection both across distances and in person, highlighting the same core values of creativity, connection, place-based learning, and play that have been a part of the NCS experience since our founding. We are so proud of how our students, families, faculty, and staff have cared for one another as we rose to the challenge of a reimagined NCS experience, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus in January.

Note: North Country School is now closed for winter break and will reopen on January 3, 2021. More information about our winter reopening plan can be found here.


Top: Lauren holds a raffle for 5th and 6th graders. Middle 1: River with his winning raffle prize. Bottom: Isaac teaches Global Issues class over Zoom.

Throughout Wintersession, the entire NCS student population attended remote academic classes each morning. In the afternoons, students living outside the Adirondack Park were offered remote arts classes, while local students who provided daily health screenings and negative COVID test results were offered in-person arts classes and outdoor activities. Our creative faculty found new ways to connect to students in their morning academic classes, whether it be through creative technology use, engaging classes with their at-home surroundings, or encouraging students to share parts of their daily lives.

In our 5- and 6-grade class, students held a Show and Share each morning over Zoom. During one “homemade” themed Show and Share, students showed off their own woodwork, paper airplanes, scones, paintings, and a terrarium. Their teacher, Lauren, raffled off a stocking cap she made, which was awarded to day-student River one afternoon before he joined his on-campus metalsmithing class. In 9th-grade Global Issues class, Isaac and his students welcomed remote guest Nick Handler. Nick, in addition to being one of our day-student parents, works for the nonprofit One Acre Fund—a social enterprise that provides microfinance loans and training to smallholder farmers. Nick gave a brief overview of his journey finding and working at OAF, and answered student questions about non-profits, hunger, and poverty, working internationally, and sustainability and climate change.

To learn more about One Acre Fund, click here.

Top: Max teaches 7th-grade math class over Zoom. Middle: 4th-grade science class meets over Zoom. Bottom: Julia records her weather observations for science class from home.

In 7th-grade math class, students met over Zoom to continue their unit on solving systems of equations using elimination. Math teacher Max devised a creative two-camera setup for the students, allowing the class to work out equations with Max on one board while looking at graphs on another.

Throughout the fall, our 4th-grade scientists learned about the weather by recording local weather observations twice weekly. During Wintersession, students met over Zoom to discuss their recorded data, before creating bar graphs and pie charts displaying their individual findings. The class then learned how to identify different types of clouds, taking a break from Zoom to observe the sky outside their homes before regrouping and sharing their local cloud report with their classmates.


Top: Courtney and improv theater class play a game. Middle 1: Lucy’s improv character. Middle 2: Band class rehearses. Middle 3: Digital photography class meets over Zoom. Bottom: One of Grace’s daily photo slides.

Throughout Wintersession, our students attended art classes both in person and remotely each afternoon, and we have been delighted to see the many different types of creativity on display. In Courtney’s improv theater class, day students Julia, Lucy, and Sophie worked on their improvisational skills while playing a game where a host has to guess the identities of their party guests. Under the guidance of music teacher Joey, a newly created rock band jammed together while honing their instrumental skills. In Sierra’s digital photography class, students attending from home shared beautiful and interesting images capturing aspects of their daily lives.

Top: Tiago creates a needle-felted animal. Middle 1: Jorge’s needle-felted animals. Middle 2: Teagan works on metalsmithing with teacher Meredith. Middle 3: Matt cuts wood for his kubb set. Bottom: Samantha and Ella throw pottery on the wheel.

In our on-campus visual arts classes, students spent the past two weeks hard at work on their fiber arts, woodshop, ceramic, and metalsmithing projects. By the end of Wintersession, our campus studios were filled with colorful felted animals, handmade wooden toys and plant stands, metal jewelry and decorative pieces, and beautifully thrown cups and bowls, all of which will become cherished keepsakes and gifts for friends and family.


Top: Cross-country skiing in the Garden Pasture. Middle 1: Arden cross-country skis. Bottom: Jessica hikes in the snow.

The North Country School campus was blanketed in a fresh layer of powdery snow this past week, providing the perfect winter playground for Wintersession’s outdoor activities. Students attending in-person afternoon art classes were invited to stay for out-time and barn chores, and this past week saw small groups cross-country skiing our trails and walking through the winter wonderland of the NCS mountain campus.

Top: An out-time on the sledding hill. Middle: Lucy pulls a sled up the hill. Bottom: Anika goes tubing on the sledding hill.

We brought our sleds and tubes out of storage this past week for some fun-filled afternoons on the lake hill and sledding hill. While we only saw a few inches of snow, students took full advantage, having a great time with friends while getting some speed and a bit of air before heading off to the barn for afternoon chores.


Top: Adults and students circle up for evening barn chores. Middle 1: Horses in the barn pasture. Middle 2: Monty and Alex lead horses into the barn with Noni’s help. Middle 3: Daven fills water for the sheep. Middle 4: The sheep wait for hay. Bottom: Visiting with the sheep.

Throughout this unusual and challenging year, we have all found great comfort and plenty of joy at the barn. No matter what else has been happening all around us, our farm animals must still be cared for. Throughout Wintersession, students have continued to meet at the barn gate at sunset, bundled up in their warm gear and ready to lend a helping hand. This past week’s snow created a picturesque backdrop for our horses as they waited to be led into the barn, and our flock of sheep perked up with anticipation when we brought them water, hay, and grain for their evening meal.


Top: Larry and Sierra host a reverse auction at the Virtual Holiday Gathering. Middle: Attendees at the Virtual Holiday Gathering. Bottom: Dean of Students Bryan Johansmeyer and his family participate in the reverse auction at the Virtual Holiday Gathering.

We at North Country School continue to be grateful for the students and faculty spending time on campus, but have greatly missed our many students and families that aren’t currently here in our Adirondack home. This past week we were excited to see so many smiling faces as our extended community joined us remotely for our Virtual Holiday Gathering. Families from around the globe joined our on-campus community over Zoom for a fun holiday Reverse Auction, some bedtime stories, an origami lesson, and a barn tour. While we miss having everyone here with us, we were thrilled to be able to connect and celebrate with one another despite the distances between us.

Top: JT does yard work at home. Middle 2: Raia bakes a pumpkin chocolate cake at home. Middle 3: Ira records weather observations from home. Middle 4: Ani takes photos for her Digital Photography class at home. Bottom: Brynn knits with farm yarn at home.

Another way we have loved connecting to our students and families throughout these past several weeks has been through the photos sent our way. It has been wonderful seeing our extended community highlighting the many ways North Country School values are woven into their everyday lives. Whether it be while helping in a farm or garden, cooking tasty seasonal dishes, connecting to and observing the natural world, or creating art using local materials, we are so happy to know that all that makes North Country School special can be brought along with you, even when you are not with us on our mountain campus.