Photo: Woodshop students with their completed scrap wood projects.

One of our favorite aspects of the North Country School arts program is our focus on creating projects that are not only beautiful, but are also made from local, reclaimed, and sustainable materials. Students in our fiber arts program use wool shorn from our sheep to create vibrant knitwear; metal art classes weld and shape installations constructed from found objects otherwise bound for a landfill; and our woodshop classes use lumber cut from the many responsibly-managed forests in the region, including our own NCS woods, to create the furniture and art found all around campus. This week our woodshop students put the finishing touches on their decorative coat hooks, which were made from scraps of wood left over from previous projects.

We are continuously encouraged by the innovation our students bring to their creative endeavors, and by how frequently their artistry and skill go beyond what we could have imagined.


Top: The 7th-grade English class learns about short fiction. Middle: Vivián, Nadya, and Cherry select a fable for their writing exercise. Bottom: Roan and Andrew write a compressed fable.

Creativity was also on display during academic classes this week, as our students engaged in outside-the-book reading and writing exercises. In 7th-grade English class, students expanded their understanding of short fiction forms—including short stories, and flash fiction—by transforming famous fairy tales into quick and to-the-point narratives. Working in groups, students selected and summarized tales including Little Red Riding Hood, The Tortoise and the Hare, and The Gingerbread Man using no more than 25 words. The class then workshopped their summaries in order to include all the narrative information necessary to get each fable’s most important points across.

Top: English as a Second Language (ESL) class follows instructions to make yarn dolls. Middle 1: David and Enola make yarn dolls. Middle 2: Doll-making instructions in the book Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Bottom: Enola with her completed yarn doll.

Meanwhile, students in our English as a Second Language (ESL) class expanded on their reading comprehension skills using the book they’ve been studying over the past few weeks—Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. In the story, the mother of the title character of Esperanza makes a doll out of yarn for a penniless child they meet on a train. Students David and Enola worked together alongside ESL teacher Elie and fiber arts teacher Katie to recreate the yarn dolls using the step-by-step instructions provided in the book. We loved the cute and colorful end results of this hands-on lesson that brought student learning beyond the page.


Top: Abigail paints in art class. Middle 1: In-progress glass art ready to be fused in the kiln. Middle 2: Olivia and Remi assemble a birdhouse in the woodshop. Bottom: Jonas works on his scrap wood project.

Studio art classes also worked with vibrant hues this week. Our 2D art students put paint to canvas during a lesson on perspective and color-mixing, while our 3D art class began to assemble their first glass projects of the term. The glass creations will be fired twice in our kiln—once to fuse the glass together, and again to curve the projects around plaster molds.

Over in the woodshop, students have been designing and building projects using local lumber during afternoon out-times and classes. One out-time group worked with our farmers to assemble new birdhouses that will be installed around campus. The constructions will provide nesting spaces for several species of birds that call the Adirondack Park home, including Eastern Bluebirds and Barn Swallows. Students in woodshop class, meanwhile, completed the scrap wood coat racks they designed at the start of Winter Term. Each student in the class selected a different animal and used small pieces of wood left over from other projects to create a patchwork-style depiction of that animal. The impressive projects showed that, with a little creative thinking, materials that might otherwise go to waste can be used to make art that is both decorative and useful for everyday life.

Top: Mateo and Alice paint sets for the winter theater performance. Middle: Eric, Josie, and Mia rehearse a scene. Bottom: Theater students watch the actors rehearse a scene from the Winter Term play.

The Winter Term production of How to Host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party is coming together over in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC), with sets being painted and lines being memorized. This week our students rehearsed scenes and worked on blocking for the one-act play, which will feature audience involvement and changing storylines with each performance. We are excited to see the show take shape in upcoming weeks before it is performed for the NCS community at the end of the term.


Top: Cascade House ice skates on the campus rink during Wednesday Homenight. Middle: Skating under the rink lights. Bottom: Octa ice skates.

Every Wednesday, instead of participating in our regular out-time, study hall, and dinner in the dining room, we join together in residential groups for Homenight. During Homenight, each of our six houses spend the afternoon and evening participating in special activities and enjoying a home-cooked dinner together in these smaller groups. This past Homenight, the students and houseparents in Cascade House bundled up after their meal for some time ice skating on our campus rink. The twinkling lights and stars overhead provided the perfect atmosphere for a night of group bonding.

Top: A ski group poses at Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. Middle 1: Nadya gets ready to snowboard at Whiteface. Middle 2: A Saturday trip group cross-country skis. Middle 3: Liz cross-country skis. Bottom: Ariana enjoys a day skiing at Dynamite Hill.

There were plenty of opportunities to have outdoor fun off-campus this week. Whiteface Tuesday brought our students back to this amazing local resource for a second round of skiing and snowboarding lessons, with NCS teachers and Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort instructors helping our students improve their skills as they explored new terrain. Meanwhile, weekend trip groups took advantage of several local attractions for skiing and snowboarding, with one group practicing their cross-country skiing nearby at the Heaven Hill Trails, and right across the street at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Cross Country Ski Center. Another group visited the Dynamite Hill Recreational Area for the day, getting in plenty of runs on their downhill skis and snowboards.


Top: Edible Schoolyard students meet in the barnyard. Middle 1: Barn Manager Erica leads Brownie the horse into the barnyard. Middle 2: Clover the horse sniffs different treats. Middle 3: Lola the horse decides between treats. Middle 4: The 4th-grade science class records horse behavior. Bottom: Ryan displays his horse-treat bar graph.

Students in our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes often cook and bake food that they eat themselves or share with other students and adults around campus, but this past week our 7th-grade students prepared a tasty snack for a different segment of our campus community—our herd of horses. The class spent the first part of the week’s lesson baking a batch of horse treats made from molasses, oats, flour, cinnamon, and carrots, as well as applesauce made from NCS apples. They then brought those treats down to the barnyard for a cross-curricular lesson with our 4th-grade science students.

Before arriving at the barnyard, the 4th-grade class made predictions about what types of treats our horses would prefer, from a selection including the homemade cookies, apple slices, carrot pieces, and (horse-safe) mints. Barn Manager Erica led our horses out one-by-one to see which treats would be eaten, and in what order, while the 7th graders observed and the 4th graders recorded data. After everyone watched the horses make their snack decisions, our 4th-grade scientists compiled the information into bar graphs displaying their findings. We love watching the experiential learning that takes place in our barnyard and gardens, and it was great to see our different grades working together for this entertaining and collaborative lesson.