students practice calligraphy during Spring Festival Photo: Students practice their calligraphy skills during Spring Festival. 

Throughout the academic year we find many ways to recognize the backgrounds and cultures represented within our school community, including the various holidays and traditions our international students celebrate in their home countries. This past Saturday, we gathered to mark one of these occasions: Spring Festival. The holiday, which is also known as Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, marks the start of a new year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It was a wonderful and joyful time for our community—celebrants came together to cook and enjoy delicious food, create beautiful decorations, practice their artistic skills, and decorate our campus (and themselves) in red, a color that symbolizes good luck. We are so proud of our students who helped to organize this year’s Spring Festival activities, making the evening an educational, memorable, and fun community-wide event. We wish everyone a great start to the Year of the Dragon!

ACADEMICS

a history lesson about librariesstudents participate in a lessona library handouta science lesson about the physics of dodgeballstudents learn physics through dodgeballTop: The 8th-grade History class discusses libraries. Middle 1: Students discuss the services offered by libraries. Middle 2: A handout on libraries. Middle 3: The 7th-grade Science class discusses trajectory. Bottom: The 7th-grade Science class plays dodgeball to see physics in action. 

This week our 8th-grade U.S. History students participated in a discussion about an important element of our country’s public services—the library system. The class read about the historical role of libraries in the United States, and they learned how libraries across the country protect the freedom to read and give people easy access to resources and information. The students then made connections between these public services and the earlier American private libraries, Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic libraries, and the Harlem Renaissance, which brought about gathering places for community and public art. 

Meanwhile, our 7th grade Science students expanded what they’ve been learning throughout the Winter Term during a fun (and competitive) hands-on physics activity. Using the principles of force and velocity, the students have been examining how forces along both horizontal and vertical axes determine the trajectory of objects through space. This week they stepped away from the classroom to apply their newfound knowledge to a favorite real world activity—an exciting game of dodgeball that allowed them to see the physics of force, velocity, and trajectory in action!

ARTS

students make jewelrya jewelry class jewelry suppliesTop: Mina works on her jewelry project. Middle: Students make jewelry in class. Bottom: Jewelry-making supplies. 

Over in the art studio, students in Wearable Art class have been working on their creative skills in a new medium—jewelry. This week students used jump-rings, beads, and decorative glass to construct colorful earrings, pendants, and bracelets. The pieces will be displayed throughout our Main Building gallery spaces before the students are able to take these beautiful pieces home to wear or gift to others. 

learning to codea student in coding classmaking a cabinTop: Wyatt and Marley work on coding. Middle: Alina writes code. Bottom: Ziggy works on the Culpepper Cabin frame. 

Two of our other elective classes have also been learning about how the things we interact with each day are constructed through specific step-by-step processes. In our Introduction to Computer Programming class, students have been immersing themselves in the fundamental practices of coding, including loops, variables, and functions. This week they used those concepts to develop a population growth model for Llamas in the C language. The class will finish the term by creating a program that builds a 2D pyramid based on user-defined inputs. Meanwhile, students in the Culpepper Cabin: Design and Build class have been learning about timber framing and building construction as they work on what will be the newest camp cabin on our campus. The class covered  how to notch timber frames, which will fit together without the need for metal hardware and become the support structure for the cabin in the upcoming months.  

OUTDOORS

students with mileage stickersskiing at Dynamite Hillstudents ski at Dynamite Hilla Whiteface ski group skiing at WhitefaceTop: Students receive their mileage stickers at lunch council. Middle 1: Students ski at Dynamite Hill. Middle 2: Skiing at Dynamite Hill. Middle 3: A student group at Whiteface Mountain. Bottom: Skiing on the final Whiteface Day. 

This week we celebrated our enthusiastic hikers and cross-country skiers during a lunch council announcement that awarded these avid adventurers with new mileage stickers. The stickers recognize students who have reached the 50- and 100-mile marks for miles traveled on outdoor program trips this year. At the end of the school year the top twelve mileage earners will also be recognized during our “Dirty Dozen” Mountain Cakes ceremony!

It was also a great week for skiing in our Adirondack home, with sunny days and blue skies that offered plenty of opportunities to get out on the trails. A Saturday trip group traveled slightly south to Chestertown, New York, where they enjoyed a day of skiing at Dynamite Hill—a great beginner hill for our newer skiers to practice their foundational skills. On Tuesday our entire campus community took part in the final Whiteface Day of the season, bundling up and taking in the expansive views from vistas found on this beloved local resource. While we are now done with Winter Term’s special Whiteface Days, we will be taking part in another long-held NCS winter sport tradition next Tuesday. Our annual full day Skimeister celebration at nearby Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center gives students a chance to opt in to downhill and cross-country ski competitions, or they can simply enjoy a day of relaxed free-skiing while spending time with friends. 

FARM AND GARDEN

sugaring town meetinga sugaring history video
learning how to identify a maple treediscussing the lambing seasonlooking at the lambing simulatorTop: A Town Meeting about maple sugaring. Middle 1: Students watch a video about the history of maple sugaring. Middle 2: Kim and Emily talk about how to identify sugar maple trees. Middle 3: Erica talks to the 9th-grade class about lambing. Bottom: The 9th-grade class looks at the lambing simulator. 

While the cold temperatures and fresh dusting of snow remind us that it is still decidedly the winter season, our farmers are already busily preparing for the upcoming spring milestones we take part in each year. On Wednesday morning, Garden Manager Kim introduced the community to the basics of maple sugaring and the ways in which we all participate in the sugaring process each February, March, and April. After explaining the science of maple sugaring—how sap flows up and down the maple tree in early spring until warmer weather prompts those sugars to remain in the tree canopy and create leaves—she showed a video discussing Indigenous methods of harvesting and boiling down maple syrup and sugar. Kim then showed students how to identify a sugar maple tree and demonstrated the tapping, bucket-hanging-and collection process. Next week we will begin tapping trees during classes and out-times, and once the sap begins to flow—likely sometime after we return from Spring Break—we will all take part in the collection and boiling process that brings delicious maple syrup to our plates each year. 

Meanwhile, Barn Manager Erica introduced students to another farm-related Spring Term milestone—the lambing season. In April our pregnant ewes will begin giving birth to their lambs, and while every student is able to take part in this in incredible part of our farm program, 9th-graders are given the special opportunity to sleep out in the barn and help with the birthing process during Lamb Watch. This week the 9th-grade Biology class got a preview of the lambing season when they met at the barn office for a lesson with Barn Manager Erica. Erica explained the biology of lambing and talked through the different signs of impending birth in our ewes. Students then had the chance to participate in a practice birth using a lambing simulator.

SPRING FESTIVAL

Jenny makes Spring Festival decorationshomemade dumplingsa Spring Festival dinner tablejumping rope at the Spring Festival celebrationStudents make art during the Spring Festival celebrationTop: Jenny makes Spring Festival decorations. Middle 1: Dumplings for the Spring Festival meal. Middle 2: A table at the Spring Festival dinner. Middle 3: Spring Festival dinner. Middle 4: Students jump rope at the Spring Festival celebration. Bottom: Students make art at the Spring Festival celebration. 

This Saturday we recognized the Spring Festival holiday with a tasty, celebratory, and fun evening of student-led activities that honored the start of a new year—the Year of the Dragon. Over the course of the day, groups of students made vibrant paper cuttings and drawings, decorating the dining room with red dragons and Chinese paper “chun,” which translates to “spring” in English. The groups also worked alongside our kitchen staff to cook up farm-raised pork and eggs, bok choy, dumplings, pork belly, and eggs and tomato noodles, before enjoying a dessert of candied strawberries and sweet “Tangyuan,” which are traditional Chinese rice balls. Throughout the dinner students were shown sections of the Spring Festival Gala, which is broadcast from China each year and features intricate dance and musical numbers, comedy, and theatrical performances. After enjoying the food and show, everyone was invited to participate in a variety of student-led activities that celebrated the holiday, including making paper cuttings, having their fortunes told, painting calligraphy, and playing ping pong, Tóuhú (a Chinese stick-throwing game), and giant jump rope. It was an amazing evening filled with celebration, and we were so proud of our many student-leaders who organized, prepared, and ran the event. Xīnnián kuàilè, or Happy New Year from all of us at North Country School!