Photo: The Winter Olympic Skills group cross-country skis in the Garden Pasture.

This week we ended the Winter Term with one of our favorite special events of the year—Intersession week. During Intersession, students choose from an assortment of art, outdoor, and skill-based offerings, and spend each day of the week split into morning and afternoon sessions that focus on the activities of their choosing. We loved watching our talented students explore new areas of interest, learn more about their favorite pursuits, and examine the world around them with curiosity and enthusiasm.

On the farm we welcomed more new lambs to the world, and the farmers began the work of tapping maple trees for the upcoming sugaring season. This Sunday our students left for spring break, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back in late March for our favorite Spring Term traditions including the end-of-year theater production, community-wide maple sugaring, and sowing seeds in our greenhouses.

Note: #ThisWeekAtNCS will resume after we return from spring break in late March.


Top: Sophie in a bee suit. Middle: Felix measures honey. Bottom: Olivia at the barnyard.

Intersession week provides our students the opportunity to experience the world around them in new ways. In Garden Manager Tess’s Beekeeping session, students learned about the crucial role honeybees play in our ecosystem. The group also tried on beekeeping gear, worked with beeswax, and did some baking using honey. The NCS farm will be caring for our own hive of bees starting this spring, and students will be able to see how these amazing creatures interact with our vegetable and flower gardens. Noni’s Wellness Skills and Tools group examined how we can mindfully participate with the world around us in order to connect to our own sense of health and wellbeing. The group worked on crafting projects, took part in fun and relaxing outdoor activities, and spent time on the farm enjoying and helping care for our barnyard animals.

Top: Hania teaches Samantha ukulele. Middle: Liz and Sophie write a comedy sketch. Bottom: History Through Movies watches the movie 42.

This week of special programming also allows students to expand their interests and think critically about our shared history. A group of students spent each morning honing their skills on the ukulele, culminating the week with a group performance of “A Spoonful of Sugar,” from Mary Poppins, while an afternoon session allowed another group to work on their comedy stylings, writing group sketches and individual routines that they performed at the end of the week. The History Through Movies students examined humanity and culture through the lens of films including 42, which is about the life and career of Jackie Robinson, and Erin Brockovich, which centers around the Hinkley groundwater contamination crisis that took place in the 1990s.


Top: Landon and Leo work on their stop-motion film. Middle 1: Jennifer builds a clay tree for her stop-motion film. Middle 2: Grace and Isha work on their collage projects. Middle 3: Jack heats pieces of metal to make them malleable, a technique called annealing, in the Metalsmithing session. Bottom: Jessica works on her metalsmithing project.

We are always amazed by the impressive work that comes out of our art-based sessions, and this year we watched as Garth’s Stop-Motion group used clay and found objects to create incredible short films, while Sierra’s Collage group used magazines and photographs to assemble beautiful and thoughtful compositions. Meredith’s Metalsmithing students hammered, cut, drilled, and soldered decorative objects including miniature books and delicate rings.

To view a compilation of this year’s stop-motion films, click here.


Top: The completed Martin Luther King Jr. Day mural on display in the WallyPAC. Middle 1: Retina Burn group works on lighting. Middle 2: Flash Band students practice their original song. Bottom: Flash Band performs with lighting.

Our students did a great job working together throughout Intersession, with some groups ending the week with impressive collaborative performances in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) music studios and theater space. On Friday each cohort visited the WallyPAC, where our new community mural is now on display, to view the Flash Band and Retina Burn groups’ hard work come to fruition. Flash Band spent their week as a newly formed band working on original songs, while part of Retina Burn’s week involved designing the band performance’s lighting scheme. We were all impressed by the talent on display from groups that had been working together for such a short time.

Top: Dungeons & Dragons students develop their characters. Middle: Brynn plays Dungeons & Dragons. Bottom: Inyene assembles a costume for the spring production of Mary Poppins.

The Dungeons & Dragons group spent the week working together (and against one another) to win battles, face monsters, and learn magic, while Costuming students accomplished an impressive amount of work assembling and sewing costumes for our spring theater performance of Mary Poppins. Our students once again showed us how creative and imaginative they can be, whether they are completing skillful work or simply playing and having fun.


Top: Winter Ski Mountaineering group goes ice climbing. Middle: Josh ice climbs. Bottom: Lucy celebrates a shot with her Ice Skating group.

Intersession groups explored many ways to be active this week, taking full advantage of our snowy mountain campus and some milder winter temperatures. The Winter Ski Mountaineering group visited a few local ice-climbing spots, gearing up with harnesses and crampons to learn this exciting new skill. The group also spent time backcountry skiing on Trouble Ridge, one of our favorite campus spots. Students in the Ice-Skating group had lots of fun practicing their foundational skating and hockey skills each afternoon on our new ice skating rink.

Top: Justin Perry talks to the Winter Olympic Skills group about freeriding. Middle 1: Alejandro learns how to telemark ski. Middle 2: Justin snowboards. Middle 3: Fred takes a break from snowboarding. Middle 4: Ani received a Skimeister cookie award for alpine skiing. Bottom: Josh and Amon receive their cookie awards and gear prizes for winning all-around Skimeister skier and snowboarder.

Several of our intersession groups this year spent time at the Ski Hill and on campus trails practicing their skiing and snowboarding skills. The Winter Olympic Skills group had a week filled with various Olympic activities, including skating, Nordic skiing, and alpine skiing. On Friday they welcomed guest expert Justin Perry—an NCS alum, faculty spouse, and former head freeride coach for the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF)—to the Ski Hill to teach everyone some freeriding skills and tricks. The Drop Knees Not Bombs telemark skiing group and the Ski Fest! group had long afternoons of skiing and snowboarding throughout the week, and we were impressed by how much improvement we saw by Friday.

On Wednesday the community gathered outside to celebrate last week’s Skimeister outdoor competition. Each year our event winners are awarded giant cookie medals, and this year we cheered on many of our students as the results of alpine, Nordic, and snowboarding races were announced. 9th-grader Josh and 8th-grader Amon were recognized as overall Skimeister winners for skiing and snowboarding, respectively, and were awarded T-shirts and backpacks in addition to their bounty of baked treats.


Top: A ewe and her babies. Middle 1: One of our new lambs. Middle 2: Matt holds a lamb. Middle 3: Farm interns Hania and Melody at the Sugarhouse. Middle 4: Garden Manager Tess shows the farm interns how to tap a maple tree. Bottom: Sap buckets in the sugarbush.

While it is most certainly still winter in our Adirondack home, we have started seeing some true signs of spring around campus. The arrival of our first lambs of the season is always an optimistic sign of more new life to come, and in the upcoming months we will also see the arrival of baby chicks and piglets.

Meanwhile, Garden Manager Tess and farm interns Hania and Melody have started their preparation for the upcoming maple sugaring season. The farmers worked this week to clean out the sugarhouse, practice driving the sap tank dozer through our wooded trails, and began tapping the hundreds of maple trees in the sugarbush. Sugaring season will arrive in full force once we have a run of sunny days where the temperatures reach above freezing but overnight temperatures are still cold. Once we see those signs in the upcoming forecast we can predict that the maple sap will begin flowing, and can plan our days of collecting the sap to boil down into maple syrup. Sugaring season is one of the times of year that reminds us how truly lucky we are to live in this beautiful place, and that many hands not only make light work, but help provide us with the delicious food that feeds us throughout the year.

We wish you all a safe and happy end to your own winter season, and we will return with spring updates from our mountain campus in late March, 2021.