a student looks at colorful stringPhoto: Emily selects yarn colors for her weaving project.

This past week we returned to our mountain campus after our Winter Break. The new year got off to a great start as students resumed learning, creating, exploring, and diving right back into their favorite North Country School pastimes. In our art classes it marked a time to begin new projects, like colorful weavings that will incorporate wool shorn from our farm’s sheep. Afternoon and weekend outings also brought our young adventurers to snowy trails and icy cliffs where they practiced their winter outdoor leadership skills while building confidence in themselves and connection with each other. 

Looking forward, we can’t wait to participate in the many events and celebrations of Winter Term, including special programming on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, skiing and snowboarding at nearby Whiteface Mountain ski resort during “Whiteface Days,” snowy celebrations during Skimeister day, and our special Intersession week of signature programming. Join us each week as we continue to learn and grow together here in our Adirondack home.

ACADEMICS

teaching a cursive lesson practicing cursive students practice cursive in shaving creamwriting cursive in shaving creamTop: Caroline talks to Evalyn about her cursive practice. Middle 1: Elizabeth practices cursive. Middle 2: Nina, Tahj, and Higgs practice cursive in shaving cream. Bottom: Higgs writes in cursive. 

This week our youngest students practiced a classic skill: reading and writing in cursive. The integration of cursive aids in the development and maintenance of the “hand-brain connection” and helps to improve their fine motor skills. Both of our 4th- and 5th-grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes have been having a great time working on these skills, with our 5th graders having the chance to get a bit messy at the same time as they made and remade their cursive letters in shaving cream!

students discuss Shakespeare Shakespearean phrases students watch a Shakespeare videoTop: Anika, Kevin, and Ian talk about Shakespearean phrases. Middle: Shakespearean phrases we use today. Bottom: The 9th-grade English class watches a video connecting hip-hop to Shakespeare. 

While our youngest students have been learning an ancient form of writing, our oldest students have started learning about an icon of English literature—Shakespeare. This week the 9th-grade English class worked in groups to examine Shakespeare’s place in the contemporary English-speaking world. After the whole class looked at collections of phrases coined by Shakespeare, individual groups worked together to identify familiar phrases and write example dialogues using those expressions in context. They closed out the dynamic lesson by watching a TED talk by UK hip-hop artist Akala, founder of the Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, who made comparisons between Shakespearean English and hip-hop’s artistic use of language.  

ARTS

selecting yarna student with a weaving project plan students work in the woodshop working in the woodshopa photography critiquea student's photo workTop: Katie talks to Eleanor about her new weaving project. Middle 1: Edison gets ready to start a new weaving project. Middle 2: Larry helps Roan with his woodshop project. Middle 3: Abel works on his woodshop project. Middle 4: Photography students take part in a critique. Bottom: Landon’s photography project. 

Art offers our students the opportunity for creativity and collaboration, and it also gives them a different perspective on how they see and engage with the world around them. In our studio art classes, our young artists have been working on original designs using materials that connect to our campus resources. Fiber art students began new projects that will incorporate wool that was sheared from our campus-raised sheep into original weaving designs, honing their skills working with colors and patterns. Meanwhile, our woodshop students continued working on the unique projects they began before break—which includes scrap wood art and functional furniture pieces—and which use wood from campus trees and local mills.

Our photography students expanded their understanding of art appreciation as they participated in one of their regular critique sessions. These critiques allow students to think critically about their work and the work of others, explore how different choices make them feel and whether their intentions come across to outside observers, and practice their ability to give feedback—both positive and constructive—in thoughtful and considerate ways. 

OUTDOORS

a student hiking groupcrossing the icestudents ice climb
a student ice climbsa student sleddingTop: A Saturday hiking group at the Wright Peak trailhead. Middle 1: Students help each other cross a stream on the trail to Blueberry Mountain. Middle 2: A Saturday trip group ice climbs near Chapel Pond. Middle 3: Dennis ice climbs. Bottom: Hudson goes sledding. 

It was a busy week of assorted winter activities in the Adirondack region, with students taking part in valuable skill-building while navigating tricky conditions that ranged from wet to snowy to icy. Some groups hiked along some of our favorite local trails, using spikes strapped to their boots in order to walk on slippery ground, and the students helped one another navigate challenging spots like river crossings and steep inclines. Other groups took part in one of our favorite hyper-seasonal activities: ice-climbing. While searching for the best routes, the young climbers learned foundational climbing skills by using ice axes and crampons to grip the ice. And after spending long but fulfilling hours hiking mountains and scaling walls, our avid outdoor explorers also had the chance for some exhilarating downhill fun as they sledded on the NCS campus’s rolling terrain. 

FARM AND GARDEN

students collect eggslooking at collected eggsholding eggsstudents candle an egga candled eggTop: Edible Schoolyard elective students and 4th-grade Science students collect eggs. Middle 1: Looking at different types of eggs in the chicken coop. Middle 2: Two different types of eggs. Middle 3: Students learn how to candle eggs. Bottom: An egg being candled. 

Throughout the Winter Term, one of our Upper School Edible Schoolyard elective classes and our youngest Science students have been working together on a hands-on project involving one of our year-round farm resources—the eggs laid by our barnyard hens. This past week both classes met at the barn office to talk to Barn Manager Erica about egg biology, why we raise different types of laying hens, and how a fertilized egg can hatch into a chick. The group then visited the chicken coop, where everyone collected several freshly laid, colorful eggs right from the nesting boxes, before bringing the eggs back to the office to “candle” them. Candling is a process that allows us to see the inside of an egg by placing it in a dark room or box and shining a very bright light through the shell. 

The eggs were then placed in an incubator—which keeps them at a warm 99 degrees Fahrenheit and around 60% humidity while turning them slowly—where they will have the opportunity to grow into chicks over the next 21 days. Throughout the incubation process, students will periodically candle the eggs to see which ones are fertilized and have successfully developing chicks inside their shells. The chicks that hatch from the fertilized eggs will be raised by the 4th-grade class until they are ready to join the flock in the barnyard coop. We are excited to see what percentage of our collected eggs hatch into chicks over the next month!