Photo: David participates in a Model U.N. activity during Global Issues class.
Some academic lessons at North Country School connect students to our specific place, whether that be our 220-acre mountain campus or the 6-million acre Adirondack Park we call home. Other lessons look outward, and challenge our students to think globally by brainstorming how we can work together on some of the most pressing issues affecting people around the world. This week the 9th-grade students in our Global Issues class participated in their annual Model U.N. lesson, which uses simple and familiar concepts to broaden their understanding of diplomacy, civility, and the ability to make positive social change. The class first participated in a mock U.N. session where each student made arguments for the best pizza topping. Next, they applied the protocols and strategies they learned to an authentic Model U.N. committee session addressing real-world issues related to justice, access, and the environment. It was wonderful to see our students engage in this thoughtful exercise, and to listen to one another with open-mindedness and respect.
Top: Dom Mullins presents to the NCS community. Middle: Sam asks Dr. Mullins a question. Bottom: Riiley, Lorenza, and Mina visit the Adirondack Center for Writing.
This past week we kicked off Black History Month by welcoming guest Dr. Dom Mullins to campus for a day of special programming. Dr. Mullins is a military veteran, peace activist, and professionally trained ballet dancer, and in 2022 was a member of the first all-Black team of mountaineers to summit Mount Everest. Our students, as well as groups of students from Northwood School and Keene Central School, attended a morning Town Meeting in which Dr. Mullins shared stories about his life and answered questions about the path he took to get where he is today. In the afternoon different groups of students were also able to join Dr. Mullins for a ballet lesson and ice climbing session. Thank you to Dr. Mullins, for spending the day with our NCS community, and to our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Yunga Webb for organizing such a wonderful day of activities and presentations!
The students who participate in our “Friday at Five” creative writing club also had the opportunity to meet and learn from others outside the NCS community. The group spent last Friday evening at the Adirondack Center for Writing for an event called “Friday Night Writes,” where they met with professional writers Tyler Barton and Erin Dorney. Students used prompts to work on their own writing, then they read some of their work aloud to one another.
Top: Rosalie and Emma work on their preposition obstacle course. Middle 1: Harry sets up his obstacle course. Middle 2: A preposition obstacle course. Middle 3: Liz participates in the Model U.N. activity. Middle 4: Ezra listens to a Model U.N. presentation. Bottom: Jenny participates in a Model U.N. session.
Throughout the Winter Term, our 7th-grade English class has been learning the different parts of speech. This week the class put what they’ve learned about language into practice during a fun and dynamic activity on prepositions. The class visited the Quonset, where they used props including bowling pins, skateboards, and hula hoops to create a preposition obstacle course, before challenging one another to go “above,” “around,” and “through” their created terrain.
Our 9th-grade Global Issues class participated in several Model U.N. activities this week, beginning with a mock session advocating for different pizza toppings as part of the U.S. Committee on Round Things. After using the correct procedures to debate and discuss their rationale for why pepperoni, mushrooms, or pickles make the best topping, they applied their new knowledge and skills to an authentic Model U.N. session, where they discussed some of the many human rights and environmental issues taking place around the world.
Top: Studio art class critiques their garden signs. Middle 1: Rosalie discusses the choices she made for her garden sign designs. Middle 2: The garden signs, ready to be put on stakes. Middle 3: Sierra looks at Jack’s photographs. Bottom: Ariana and Lorenza look at a photograph.
In the NCS art program, classes often work together on collaborative projects. This term the students in our Community Projects Class and the students in our studio art classes have been hard at work on a new addition to campus that also connects to our farm program—signs for the vegetable garden beds. The Community Projects class first measured and prepared pine boards cut from our campus trees, before using a router to etch the names of the different crops into the wood. Students in 7th-grade studio art then designed and painted different fruits and vegetables onto the signs, before going through a group critique to see if any changes should be made. In the upcoming week Community Projects students will attach the signs to stakes so they are ready to mark different garden beds this spring.
In digital photo class, students have been learning about the different rules of composition in photography. For their current assignment, each student selected three of their favorite rules to focus on, then they put those rules to work while photographing different sites around our campus buildings. After editing their work in the photo lab, everyone presented their completed prints to peers during the group art critique.
Top: Dr. Dom Mullins dances with Samara. Middle: Dom Mullins leads a dance lesson. Bottom: William with Dom Mullins.
This past week our avid dancers were able to attend a special ballet class led by Dr. Dom Mullins, who trained and performed professionally as a dancer. Dr. Mullins discussed the impact ballet had on him by teaching the foundational plié—which translates to mean “bend” in English—explaining that this position is not a destination but a process. Students learned how to move their bodies into the basic plié combination, and had a thoughtful discussion about how Dr. Mullins has used this concept as a metaphor for moving through his life.
Top: Dr. Dom Mullins leads an ice climbing session. Middle: Val ice climbs. Bottom: Students visit the Ice Palace in Saranac Lake.
Students also had the opportunity to learn with Dr. Dom Mullins during an ice climbing session at Cascade Pass, just down the road from campus. Dr. Mullins taught students how to properly kick their feet to get their crampons to stick into the ice, and how to get tools to stick into the ice’s surface so that they can be pulled on safely. He also explained the science behind ice formation, and how different ice features and curves provide better or worse surfaces for climbing.
Another group of students enjoyed the ice in a very different way this week when they visited nearby Saranac Lake for the annual Winter Carnival. Each year volunteers construct a giant ice palace using blocks of ice cut from Lake Flower. To fit this year’s Winter Carnival theme of “Roman Around,” the impressive structure was carved to emulate the Colosseum, complete with a gladiator ice statue and other nods to ancient Rome.
Top: Outdoor Leadership students take in the views during their practicum trip. Middle 1: Skiing during the Outdoor Leadership trip. Middle 2: Outdoor Leadership students ski. Bottom: Anika on the Outdoor Leadership trip.
This week our Winter Term Outdoor Leadership (ODL) students took part in their multi-day winter practicum trip to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The group used the backcountry skills they’ve been learning over the past several months to ski and hike while safely navigating cold and snowy conditions. We are so proud of our students for demonstrating resilience and flexibility, as the trip’s itinerary changed to prioritize health and safety due to some of the coldest temperatures on record in the Northeastern United States.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: Harry and Enola look at hatching chicks in the incubator. Middle 1: A chick hatches from an incubated egg. Middle 2: A newborn chick. Middle 3: Joseph plants kale seedlings. Middle 4: Melissa harvests tiny greens from the greenhouse. Bottom: Freshly harvested greens.
Babies were the theme on our farm this week, with exciting developments taking place all around campus. On Wednesday, the first of the incubated eggs that an Edible Schoolyard (ESY) class candled last week to check for chick development began to hatch! While checking the eggs, students first noticed a tiny hole in one of the eggs where a small beak began to break through the shell, and were able to hear a quiet peeping every once in a while. On Thursday the first chick was born, and it was quickly followed by several more. As of Friday morning, six babies had emerged from these incubated eggs, and we are looking forward to seeing if any more eggs hatch into chicks over the course of the next few days.
Over in the Aeroponics Room, our older Edible Schoolyard students were able to transplant the baby plants they seeded at the beginning of the Winter Term into hydroponic towers. The dill, basil, tomatoes, and kale that they planted will grow into fully mature crops as the term progresses, and will be harvested for use in our dining room and ESY classes this spring. The class then visited the greenhouse, where they were able to pick and taste many of the small greens that have been growing in that space throughout the winter. They also learned about the different ways we keep those crops warm in the sometimes super cold temperatures (last week reached below -30 degrees Fahrenheit!) that hit our campus during the winter.
Top: An outtime group visits the new lambs. Middle: A newborn lamb nurses. Bottom: Barn Manager Erica holds a newborn lamb.
Meanwhile, another highly anticipated new addition arrived to our barnyard, with the birth of the season’s first lambs. The first two baby lambs were born on the farm on Tuesday morning, and students were able to visit with the adorable, tiny babies throughout the week. While newborn lambs start out their lives in an enclosure with their mothers in order to ensure that they bond and begin nursing correctly, the new family unit will rejoin the larger flock after a few days, at which point our students will be able to go in and interact these cuddly and social members of our farm.