students in a light boothPhoto: Ziggy and Octa in Lighting Design class. 

Since our founding in 1938, the performing arts have played a central role in our students’ experiences. Whether taking to the stage as an actor, building and maneuvering set pieces as part of stagecraft and stage crew, constructing colorful ensembles as a costume designer, working backstage as a stage director, playing instruments as a member of the show band, or designing and implementing lighting schemes as part of the light crew, our performing arts program provides students with a space to channel their creativity and build confidence.

This week, one group of students practiced their skills in the lighting booth during Lighting Design class while another gathered in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) theater during out-time for the first official all cast table read of the Spring Term production of Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. These were just two examples of the many ways our students and community work together toward a common goal while exploring their interests within this broad, creative arena.

ACADEMICS

learning about animal tracksa student makes animal tracksa math lessona compost grapha science lessonlooking at fishing luresTop: The 4th-grade Science class visits Heart Lake. Middle 1: Creating animal tracks. Middle 2: A math lesson on composting food scraps. Middle 3: A compost graph. Middle 4: An 8th-grade Science lesson about fish. Bottom: Looking at fly fishing flies. 

It was a great week for incorporating guest experts into our lessons, with classes in both the Upper and Lower Schools taking advantage of the bountiful knowledge of our extended community. Our 4th-grade students took to the trails to participate in the next lessons run by the nearby Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK)—the Marie L Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake. Each year, students in the ADK program learn about the natural world alongside the organization’s outdoor educators. For their winter lessons, students accompanied educator Mayfly Maggie through the woods to look for animal tracks and other signs of wildlife, learned about how animals adapt to survive in cold winter temperatures, and studied the differences between the domesticated farm animals we have at NCS and the wild animals who make their homes throughout the Adirondacks. 

Our 7th-grade Pre-Algebra students continued their unit on collecting data and compiling statistics with the help of our own NCS farm team. Earlier in the term the class met with the farmers to record the weight of the food scraps that went into our composter over the course of 2023, and this week the group analyzed and interpreted the data before creating their own graphs showing how much our community composted over the year. Meanwhile our 8th-grade Environmental Science students kicked off their “Salmon in the Classroom” project with a presentation from Lake Champlain’s chapter of Trout Unlimited. The “Salmon in the Classroom” program provides students with the opportunity to raise Atlantic salmon from eggs, and to learn about the history and life cycle of the fish species. This coming week the class will receive their eggs and begin caring for these aquatic creatures!

ARTS

a cast read-throughstudents follow along in a play script Top: A full cast read-through of the Spring Term production. Middle: Reading along with a script. Bottom: Roan reads his lines. 

The full cast read-through of the Spring Term theater production is a milestone we look forward to each January. It is the first time every actor in the show comes together in one room to start conceiving what the final stage production will feel like when it is performed in late May. During Monday’s out-time, our cast met in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) theater to read through the script for the Spring Term production of Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. The show, written by playwright Matt Cox, parodies the Harry Potter book series by acknowledging the lived-in experience of the students in the often overlooked Hufflepuff House. The whimsical story takes place simultaneously with the original book series. We are so excited to see the show come together over the next few months!

learning about an improv gamean improv gamestudents play an improv game Top: 4th- and 5th-grade students learn how to play an improv game. Middle: Students play an improv game. Bottom: Lilly, Higgs, and Winnie play an improv game. 

Meanwhile, our youngest students took to the WallyPAC stage to practice their acting skills during an improv activity that brought joy and silliness to the forefront. The game, called Card Status, has each participant draw a card from a deck and, without looking at it, hold it to their foreheads. The students must then interact with one another in ways that reflect the “status” their card would represent in a royal court, and they end the game by trying to line up in the correct ranking order. The class has been learning about Commedia dell’Arte and about stock characters, and this fun activity allowed our young actors to embody different characters with specific roles and to explore their relationships to one another. 

OUTDOORS

a student pulls a sled of camping gearstudents on an overnight students ice skateTop: Jack and Cynthia hike to the Crag Cabin. Middle: Students camp out in the Crag Cabin. Bottom: Ice skating on the campus rink. 

It was a week filled with fun seasonal “firsts” here on our wintery NCS campus. On Friday night a group of students participated in the first winter crag cabin overnight of the year. Everyone stayed warm and cozy beside the wood stove, even while the outside temperatures dipped below zero degrees Fahrenheit! The burly group has been practiced the first Leave No Trace principle, “plan ahead and prepare,” by using a Nordic sled called a pulk to bring plenty of warm gear to the cabin. Other students laced up their ice skates for the first time this year and got out on our very own campus ice skating rink, which is now frozen and smooth enough for use. We are always excited to open this beloved community resource, and we look forward to evenings skating under the lights in the upcoming months. 

a ski jumping group ski jumping learning first aidTop: Students participate in the “Learning to Fly” program. Middle: Ski jumping. Bottom: Learning how to wrap an injured arm. 

Students also had plenty of opportunities to learn new skills this week, both on and off our campus. One group made connections to Lake Placid’s rich Olympic history during “Learning to Fly,” a program coordinated with NYSEF (the New York Ski Education Foundation), that brings students to the Olympic Ski Jumps to try ski jumping on the 10 and 20 km hills. Meanwhile the students in our Outdoor Leadership II class began learning and practicing the fun fundamentals of wilderness first aid by delivering chest compressions to CPR dummies, using an AED (automated external defibrillator) device, and applying direct pressure to and wrapping up injuries on extremities. 

FARM AND GARDEN

sheep in the pena sheep shearing poetry lesson
shearing a sheepwatching sheep shearinga sheared sheepTop: A sheep in the barnyard. Middle 1: An English class alliteration lesson. Middle 2: Shearing a sheep. Middle 3: Students watch a sheep get sheared. Bottom: Recording the body condition score of a newly sheared sheep. 

This week different groups of students were able to participate in a bi-yearly event that takes place on our farm—the shearing of our sheep. In early fall, and then once more in the middle of winter, we welcome Mary the sheep shearer to our barnyard to remove the fleeces from our animals. Every fall that long wool is cleaned and spun into the yarn we use in our Fiber Arts program weavings, while the shorter winter wool is turned into felt that can then be used to make needle-felted creatures and the dryer balls that are used in our campus laundry. Several different groups attended the morning shearing, including one English class that met beforehand to practice some alliterative poetry in honor of the “sheep shearing,” and one Science class that learned about how the lanolin in sheep wool helps to protect the animals from hot, cold, and wet conditions. 

After watching the sheep shearing process, Barn Manager Erica explained how each newly shorn sheep is assessed and given a body condition score, which looks at the muscle and fat of each animal. Erica also discussed which of the ewes in our flock would be giving birth to lambs in the spring, and she talked about the timeline for this year’s lambing schedule, which should begin in late March, after our community returns from Spring Break.