Photo: An out-time group decorates campus for the holidays.

Smiling faces and cheer could be found all across the North Country School campus this week, as we look to bid farewell to the year and head off for our winter break. In academic classes we watched our students give thoughtful presentations, participate in dynamic activities, and work together on engaging cross-curricular projects, while the outdoors provided the opportunity for both play and hands-on learning. We ended the week with beloved NCS holiday traditions, joining together to sing seasonal songs, and savoring a festive meal featuring dishes from around the world. It was a great way to end the first half of the school year! We are excited to see all of the wonderful work, play, and adventure to come in 2022.

We wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season spent with loved ones. The #ThisWeekAtNCS blog will return with more updates from our mountain campus in January, 2022.


Top: Claire talks with 9th-grade Global Issues students . Middle 1: Global Issues students discuss their research topics. Middle 2: Judge Lilly holds court in 8th-grade history class’s mock trial. Bottom: The defense questions witnesses.

In our 9th-grade Global Issues class, students have been working throughout the term on individual research projects related to pressing human and environmental concerns in today’s global climate. This past week the class met in groups to discuss their findings and to engage in critical dialogue about their research topics, which included women’s rights in Afghanistan; the Venezuelan immigrant crisis; and technological innovations for cleaning and combating water pollution. We are so proud of our students for listening to one another and sharing their opinions on these complicated real-world topics.

Our 8th-graders looked to important moments in our country’s history during a mock trial about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Over the course of the past few weeks, the class has been learning about the historic fire, which led to many preventable deaths and inspired new workplace safety laws. Adults in our community served as the trial jury, while students acted as the attorneys, witnesses, and defendants. The jury ultimately ruled in favor of the defense based on the evidence presented, which highlighted to the class the ways in which a persuasive argument can shape a legal outcome.

Top: Meredith talks to Edible Schoolyard class and Japanese class. Middle: Liz and Lily make taiyaki batter. Bottom: Joseph removes the taiyaki from a mold.

At North Country School, interdisciplinary learning is a core aspect of our academic philosophy. This week we were excited to see a collaborative lesson between one of our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes and our Japanese class. In 8th- and 9th-grade ESY elective, students have been learning about the Three Sisters crops of corn, beans, and squash as part of their local-food curriculum. The crops were grown together by the Indigenous people of the Adirondack region, the Haudenosaunee, and each plant helps the other two thrive and produce a strong harvest. Meanwhile, students in Japanese class have been learning verbs including “mix,” mazeru, and “fry,” yaku, while reviewing food vocabulary, like “eggs,” tamago, and “milk,” gyuunyuu.

The ESY students began the week by cooking local pinto beans into a sweet bean paste similar to Japanese red bean paste, or anko. They were then joined by the Japanese class to cook up taiyaki, which is a fish-shaped pastry filled with the sweet paste. The lesson allowed Japanese students to teach their ESY peers some Japanese terms, while our ESY students did a great job helping their fellow students work together in our Teaching and Learning Kitchen. The cross-curricular project was a delicious success!


Top: Theater class runs through lines. Middle 1: Alejandro and Adela paint the play set. Middle 2: Abigail looks at her developed film. Middle 3: Gwen plays music for the community. Bottom: Dancing in the dining room.

As we head into our winter break, it’s exciting to see the start of many impressive art projects that will come to fruition when we return to campus in January. This week, our theater and theater-tech students worked on our production for the term, a murder mystery dinner party. Actors ran their lines for the play, while siblings Alejandro and Adela worked alongside one another to help paint set pieces. The play will have a different ending based on audience involvement, and will be performed at the end of the winter term in February. Photography students spent time in the darkroom this week, developing film and selecting images to print on photo paper. The selected prints will be displayed throughout the Main Building and Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) in the upcoming months.

Our community gathered together on Thursday for the return of our annual winter holiday celebration—an evening filled with singing and dancing, culminating in our delicious Holiday Banquet. We missed this event last year, and were thrilled to join in as our talented music teacher, Gwen, led students and staff in this beloved musical event.


Top: Emily and Grace build a snowman. Middle 1: Jonas, Joel, and David go sledding. Middle 2: Ryan and Wyatt sled during out-time. Middle 3: Jess teaches an Outdoor Leadership lesson. Bottom: Outdoor Leadership students with their campfire.

At North Country School, calling the Adirondack Park home means that nature is both our playground and our classroom. This week we saw plenty of fun and silliness, as well as engaged learning and skill-building, in the outdoors.

Out-times were filled with plenty of our favorite snow activities, and our students were all smiles as they created friendly snowmen, skied around campus trails, and raced each other down the Lake Hill on sleds. Meanwhile, students in the Outdoor Leadership class practiced starting a fire in adverse weather conditions during a lesson taught by 9th-grader Alejandro. Alejandro demonstrated different fire-building techniques to use in the winter, and the class talked through the importance of these potentially life-saving skills for those who recreate in our cold and snowy region. Each student in the course will take a turn teaching a winter-preparedness lesson during the Winter Term. Alejandro did a great job starting things off with his thoughtful and well-executed lesson.


Top: Octa and Tiago make marzipan pigs in Edible Schoolyard class. Middle 1: Alea and her marzipan pig. Bottom: The 5th-grade with their marzipan pigs.

Our younger Edible Schoolyard classes celebrated the season this week. Students learned about a few holiday foods from around the world, as well as discussing their own traditions with one another. After sharing what special meals they eat with their families during different winter holidays, the classes participated in the German and Scandinavian New Year’s tradition of making marzipan pigs. The class whipped up a batch of homemade marzipan, and then each student sculpted their own pig figurine out of the malleable dough. These cute culinary creations symbolize good luck in the year to come.

Top: Holiday Banquet decorations in the dining room. Middle 1: Director of School Matt Smith welcomes everyone to the Holiday Banquet. Middle 2: A Japanese dish made with local ingredients at the Holiday Banquet. Bottom: Lucy and Eleanore bring Clark House their yule log.

This year we were excited to restart a beloved North Country School event that was put on hold last year—our annual Holiday Banquet. The Holiday Banquet is a winter meal where we come together to enjoy dishes from different regions around the world. Much like our ESY classes this week, the event allows our students to celebrate and share foods connected to their own family backgrounds. We gathered together in the dining room this Thursday evening to enjoy the feast, which included an array of items representing countries including China, Japan, Guatemala, Mexico, and Tanzania, and were prepared using NCS-grown ingredients including pork, potatoes, carrots, and honey. We are grateful to our wonderful kitchen staff for preparing this bounty of delicious dishes, and we loved joining together once again to take part in this joyous NCS tradition.