students circle up in the barnyardPhoto: Students circle up in the barnyard at the start of chores. 

Our community returned to campus this past week to begin the Winter Term, and we are off to a great start thanks to snowy conditions! Light flurries brought a dusting of snow to our mountain campus, giving us just enough ground cover to participate in some of our favorite cold-weather activities (sledding and cross-country skiing) and providing a beautiful backdrop for our campus strolls and evening barn chores. Students also began their winter elective classes, which offered exciting opportunities to try different artistic pursuits, while academic classes tackled interesting new topics like holiday celebrations around the world. While the weeks between Thanksgiving and our longer Winter Break tend to fly by, this time of year is always one filled with fun, learning, creativity, and adventure.

ACADEMICS

students in a classroomstudents watch a videostudents participate in a lesson
students participate in a lessona student bounces a basketballTop: The 5th-grade Social Studies class discusses holidays in Sweden. Middle 1: The 5th-grade Social Studies class watches a video on Sweden. Middle 2: Myles and Abel design their preposition obstacle course. Middle 3: Students set up their preposition obstacle course. Bottom: Hudson goes through an obstacle course.  

As part of the Winter Term unit on holidays around the world, the 5th-grade Social Studies class has been “traveling” to different countries to learn about the customs, traditional foods, and special events in those regions. Last week the class visited Germany via videos, readings, and discussions. While on their journey, the students had their passports stamped and wrote postcards to loved ones describing their experience in that country. They also connected the Social Studies lesson to their Edible Schoolyard class, where they learned how to bake stollen (traditional German sweet bread), which they gifted to adults in the community with homemade ingredient tags. Over the next few weeks the class will visit China, India, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Mexico to learn about the New Year, Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan, and Hanukkah celebrations in those different locations. 

While our youngest students traveled the world, our 7th-grade English class  participated in a fun and dynamic annual lesson that never fails to bring a smile to our faces—the preposition obstacle course. The class spent the previous two weeks learning the different parts of speech, and this week they moved from their classroom to the Quonset to set up props and obstacles that allowed them to act out their group-designed courses. Everyone walked “around,” “under,” and “below” different objects in the room, stepped “within” hula hoops, and threw basketballs “across” different distances in order to see what they’ve been learning on the page take shape in real life.

ARTS

performing at Muddy Pig a Muddy Pig cafe drawingstudents draw cartoonsstudents draw cartoonslooking at a cartoonTop: Owen and Rafa perform at the Muddy Pig Café. Middle 1: A drawing on a Muddy Pig Café table covering. Middle 2: Ziggy and Cody draw cartoons during Town Meeting. Middle 3: Mariana and Mary collaborate on a cartoon during Town Meeting. Bottom: Students and adults look at the Town Meeting cartoon gallery. 

This week our students participated in two different, but equally fun, community activities that allowed them to show off their creativity. On Saturday night, our talented performers took to the stage to sing and play instruments for their peers during the semi-annual Muddy Pig Café. Meanwhile, last week’s Town Meeting allowed attendees to create 2D art during an activity that focused on cartoon drawing. Students and faculty drew comic strips that were related to their North Country School experience in some way. The artwork was then put on display, and everyone was invited to view the  silly, thoughtful, and sometimes fantastical work. 

a dance class learns about anatomya dance lessona dance lessonTop: Aniella shows her ballet class a skeleton. Middle: Ballet students move through dance positions. Bottom: Ballet students stand in first position. 

With the start of the Winter Term art rotation, our students have been able to explore a variety of activities and avenues of creative expression. One new elective option for this term is Ballet class, and this past week the group began to learn about how bone structure comes into play as we move and dance. The group used a realistic human skeleton model to examine where a dancer’s turnout comes from. In ballet, a dancer’s feet are constantly supposed to be turned out, but turnout doesn’t come from the feet or knees, but rather the hip and abdominal muscles which hold one’s legs in that turned-out position. The class discussed how using those muscles can affect the entire body, and how ballet requires an awareness of the oppositional forces acting on different parts of the body at the same time.

OUTDOORS

a student group at the Crag Cabinstudents cross-country skia student cross-country skisa student goes cross-country skiingTop: The Crag Cabin overnight camping group. Middle 1: Students cross-country ski across the Garden Pasture. Middle 2: Adrian goes cross-country skiing. Bottom: Trianna skis during out-time. 

This week our students enjoyed our snowy mountain campus during weekend trips and afternoon out-times. One group took advantage of one of our favorite wintertime campus resources—the Crag Cabin—for an overnight campout. The group spent the night in sleeping bags in the cabin, which has a wood stove to keep everyone warm, before hiking to Balanced Rocks and Pitchoff Mountain the next day. Meanwhile, an out-time group took part in another one of our beloved snow-season activities, cross-country skiing. The skiers visited spots all around campus and practiced the skills they will continue to hone over the next several months.

FARM AND GARDEN

horsescarrying water at the barnstudent with a horse
giving hay to the sheepa horseTop: Horses in the barnyard. Middle 1: Matt refills water containers at barn chores. Middle 2: Orrin with Fila the horse. Middle 3: Asia and Melissa give hay to the sheep. Bottom: Gia, the new member of our herd of horses. 

We began our new barn chores rotation this past week, with Cascade and Bramwell Houses helping to care for our farm animals in the mornings and evenings. At this point in the year our PM chore crew has been finishing up their work after the sun sets, and the twinkling lights and snow-dusted roofs in the barnyard highlight just how much of a winter wonderland our mountain home is during these chilly months. Students led the horses in from the pasture for the evening, brought hay and grain to our sheep and goats, and refilled water in the chicken coop before heading off for their own dinner in the Main Building. 

In addition to taking care of the creatures that have been sharing our campus home for months and years, we have also been caring for a brand new addition to the North Country School community—a new horse named Gia! Gia is an 18-year-old Argentinian Polo Pony. Polo ponies are athletic and brave horses, who have to maneuver around other horses, mallets, and a hard plastic ball during matches. Gia recently retired from the sport of polo, and we are excited to begin riding lessons with her in the spring!