Photo: Laurie, Vivián, and Ariana compete in the 3-Ski competition at Skimeister.
This week the Winter Term came to a close with a festive tradition we look forward to each year: our Skimeister day of snow activities at nearby Mount Pisgah Recreation Center. This year’s expanded event included both cooking and music activities, and brought with it homemade baked goods and impromptu instrumental jams along with the annual colorful costumes and ski and snowboarding races. It also included the always popular—and always entertaining—3-Ski competition,a timed race in which groups of students ski around a track on three-person cross-country skis. The day was a wonderful way to end the term, and to spend time with one another while enjoying our snowy mountain home.
During the upcoming week the NCS community will participate in our special Intersession programming, which offers students the opportunity to attend different morning and afternoon sessions based on their areas of interest. Intersession will end on Friday, March 3, with Showcases, during which the entire student body will have the opportunity to share the new skills they’ve acquired, talents they’ve honed, and work they’ve created over the course of this dynamic week of hands-on learning.
*Note: In order to include Intersession and Showcases, the final winter edition of the This Week at NCS blog and Weekly Photo Gallery will be posted on Monday, March 6, 2023.
Top: The 8th-grade U.S. History class discusses their reading on World War II. Middle 1: Andrew and Kevin discuss their reading. Middle 2: The 4th- and 5th-grade Wellness class makes collages. Bottom: Tahj’s collage photos.
This week we saw collaborative conversations taking place between groups of students, both in 8th-grade U.S. History class as they looked back toward the first half of the 20th century, and in 4th- and 5th-grade Wellness class as they looked inward about their individual personalities and interests. Each week in U.S. History class, students read and annotate a chapter of their homework and discuss it during class with their peers, and this week the conversations centered around World War II and the Cold War. The class discussed how wartime circumstances and economies impact messaging given to citizens, and they connected those ideas to modern day conflicts taking place around the world. We were impressed by the engagement and insight our students brought to the conversation, and to how well they listened to one another’s opinions about these complex issues.
Meanwhile, our youngest students also practiced their communication skills while working on individual and collaborative collages in their Wellbeing class. Each student was asked to identify items, activities, and places that they felt represented them, and then they used images of those concepts to make posters on their own and with help from their classmates. The colorful representations of our multifaceted students will be displayed in the Main Building and serve as great conversation starters about our many shared and unique interests.
Top: The 9th-grade class visits the Trudeau institute. Middle: Campbell leads a sustainability Town Meeting. Bottom: A group participates in the food miles activity during Town Meeting.
The 9th-grade biology class had the opportunity to see science in action this week with a visit to a local organization working at the forefront of medical research, the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake. At the institute, doctors Brown and Chojnack led students through a discussion about how genetic engineering, cytology, and scientific methods are applied in a real laboratory environment. The doctors then gave the group a tour of the facility, where students were able to see first-hand some of the scientific equipment used in their research. Thank you to everyone at the Trudeau Institute for making this wonderful visit possible and for spending time with our young scientists.
The entire school met to discuss a very different way science plays a role in our everyday lives during a Town Meeting led by environmental science teacher Campbell. The engaging conversation focused on the relationship between food miles—the distance food travels to reach a consumer—and carbon footprints. Everyone first met in groups to discuss the steps taken by a common ingredient like a banana to reach their plates. They then analyzed the ingredients that would be needed to make a breakfast sandwich, and discussed how ingredient choices made each day could either increase or decrease the overall food miles and carbon footprint of any given dish.
Top: Ian runs through a lighting scheme in Introduction to Lighting Design class. Middle 1: A lighting scheme. Middle 2: Ian and Rosalie work with Max on a lighting scheme critique. Middle 3: Sophie sings in a music practice room. Bottom: Liam plays piano while Sophie sings.
At North Country School, students have the opportunity to work together on projects across artistic disciplines. This week the students in Introduction to Lighting Design class ran through a lighting scheme they designed and set to music, analyzing the different elements used and the effectiveness of choices made during a group critique session. Meanwhile, students in independent music practiced the instrumental and vocal pieces they’ve worked together on throughout the Winter Term and will perform for the community later in the year.
Top: Matías in the Impact show. Middle 1: Julian in the Impact show. Middle 2: Liz, Rosalie, and Wyatt in the Impact show. Bottom: The cast of the Impact show takes their bows.
Each year a group of students also work together on the Impact show, which is an original play written, blocked, and performed by members of the class. The Impact show always touches upon powerful concepts that connect to the individuals creating the work, such as identity and belonging. This year’s show focused on the idea of performance itself as an avenue for expression, and centered around a group of young people learning how to take to the stage and use their voices during a stand-up comedy class. It also highlighted the role humor plays in bringing people together. Congratulations to the students in Impact class for putting on such an impressive production, and for using your own voices (and comedy skills) to entertain and engage our community this week!
Top: The Outdoor Leadership group on their Winter Term practicum trip. Middle: Jack puts skins on his skis. Bottom: Matt backcountry snowboards.
This past weekend the students in one of our Outdoor Leadership (ODL) classes participated in their Winter Term capstone activity, the three-day practicum trip to New Hampshire. The group traveled to the White Mountains, where they were able to use the skills they’ve been working on over the past few months including skinning up and skiing down wooded trails; practicing using avalanche beacons; and winter hiking. Everyone did a great job putting into practice the backcountry safety skills learned in class, while having fun on their skis and snowboards. We are proud of our ODL students for completing this important part of their leadership education, and we are sure they will use what they’ve learned on this trip for years to come.
Top: Wyatt in costume during Skimeister. Middle 1: The 3-Ski competition. Middle 2: Dexter skis. Middle 3: Tahj and Octa at Skimeister. Bottom: Musicians jam in the lodge at Mt. Pisgah.
This Tuesday our annual Skimeister event brought students and teachers to Mount Pisgah Recreation Center for a day of skiing, snowboarding, and just generally having fun. This year’s expanded programming, called Signature Program Day, also offered students the opportunity to bake cookies for the NCS community, or play instruments and sing together in the lodge. As is the tradition during Skimeister, many of our students wore colorful outfits or glitter while taking runs down the mountain, participating in Nordic and alpine races, and racing around a track on our custom-made 3-Ski setup. It was a great day, and the perfect way to close out the term and head into our Intersession programming next week.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: The farmers give a presentation on maple sugaring. Middle 1: A presentation slide about sugar maple trees. Middle 2: Kim shows Edible Schoolyard students and the Pingry School group how to tap a maple tree. Middle 3: Vivián hammers a spile into a tree. Middle 4: Hammering a spile. Bottom: Hanging a bucket on a spile.
This week we began preparing for our upcoming maple sugaring season on the North Country School campus, and to kick off the process, Garden Manager Kim and the farm interns gathered the community together for a presentation explaining the science behind sugaring. The farmers first explained how we sugar in the early spring: on sunny days when the temperatures reach above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but the nights still stay below freezing. During this (sometimes quite short) window of time while the sap is flowing, we collect the sap in buckets hung on spiles, which are narrow spouts hammered into the side of a maple tree. We then bring that sap to our sugarhouse’s wood-fired evaporator, which is used to boil enough water out of the sap to reach the perfect 67% sugar content needed to create a shelf-stable and tasty product. The sugaring season ends when the nighttime temperatures stay warm, causing the sap to stay high in the trees, where it is used to form new green leaves.
One of our Edible Schoolyard classes, along with a visiting group from the Pingry School in New Jersey, was then able to help begin our sugaring season by tapping the first few maple trees of the year. After learning how to identify sugar maple trees, the group worked together to drill holes in the wood, hammer spiles in place, and hang covered buckets on those spiles. While the temperatures are not yet consistently warm enough to begin sugaring in earnest, we already saw some sap collecting in these buckets during the warmer and sunnier days this past week! Over the next several weeks the farmers and others will tap hundreds more trees in our sugarbush, and we hope to be in the full swing of sugaring when our students return to campus after Spring Break.