Ice Climbing Intersession. Photo Credit: Nancie Battaglia

This week, our on-campus students ended winter term with Intersession, our week of special programming, while our 9th graders made their annual trip to Utah.

During Intersession, our 4th through 8th graders spent their days split into morning and afternoon sessions, allowing them to explore a new area of interest or learn more about some of their favorite activities. While our younger students ice climbed, learned about lighting design, dove into history through movies, and created colorful fabric projects, our 9th graders traveled around Utah’s majestic protected spaces, bonding as a group.

Up in our maple sugarbush, the farmers began tapping trees for the upcoming sugaring season, and before beginning our spring break the community came together for Intersession Showcases, sharing all they’d learned throughout the week.


Top: Jack teaches Tyler and Kyle how to build a fire. Middle: Percy Jackson Intersession in costume. Bottom: Percy Jackson Intersession battle.

Intersession week provides our students the opportunity to experience the world in different ways. While Jack’s When Zombies Attack group honed wilderness survival skills like building fires and tying knots, Courtney’s Percy Jackson roleplay group dove deep into the mythology of the Percy Jackson series. The group spent the week creating intricate backstories, assembling costumes, and acting out scenes and battles with one another as their Percy Jackson half-god characters.

Top: Sierra shows the group how to use film cameras. Middle: Tony, Alex, and Frank in the lighting booth. Bottom: Max explains lighting.

Students in Sierra’s Dark Room Exploration Intersession spent the week learning all about the photography process, taking and developing photographs in the dark room and experimenting with different photo processes including toning prints with coffee and solarizing images.

In Max’s Retina Burn Intersession, students were introduced to the new theatrical light rig in The Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center. Their final project was to put together several light shows, including one for the Flash Band Intersession’s musical performance. In the History Through Movies Intersession, history teacher Selden asked her students to think critically about humanity and culture through the lens of films, including Invictus and Argo.


Top: Grace and Elizabeth frost cupcakes. Middle: Josie makes a hat. Bottom: Fabric animals.

Garden Manager Tess stepped away from the sugarbush for a bit this week to lead The Art of Cake Intersession. The group spent the week baking, decorating, eating, and sharing different types of beautiful and delicious cakes, including a six-layer rainbow cake and salted caramel cupcakes. In Lauren’s Fabric Fun and Fashion Forward Intersession, students learned how to read and cut patterns, adjusting them to create hats and stuffed animals, and using sewing machines to finalize their pieces.

Top: Ezra sets up a stop-motion movie. Bottom: Helen’s stop-motion setup.

Garth’s Stop-Motion Animation Intersession spent the week taking hundreds of photos and editing them together into short films. The group created films using clay, fruit, and Lego pieces, making slight variations between each frame to create motion.

To watch one of Ezra’s stop-motion movies, click here.


Top: Larry and Eliza weld. Middle: Building a metal mushroom. Bottom: Caroline and Grace look at costumes.

Larry’s Stagecraft Intersession worked together this week building set pieces for our upcoming spring production of Alice in Wonderland. The group used reclaimed materials to build a giant mushroom that will be used as a seat for the character of the caterpillar in the show. Caroline and Kathi’s Costuming Intersession also got down to work for the spring production, creating vision boards for Alice in Wonderland character looks and assembling outfits for different scenes using the clothing and fabric in our costume closet.

Top: Isabella in Flash Band Intersession. Bottom: The Flash Band group.

Joey’s Flash Band Intersession met at the beginning of the week with the lofty goal of creating an instant rock band. The group put on a performance for the community at the end of the week, accompanied by stage lighting from the Retina Burn Intersession.


Top: Nate in the pool. Bottom: Rob teaches a swimming lesson.

Different Intersession groups explored various ways to be active this week, both in and out of doors. Rob and Bri’s Swimming 101 Intersession went to the nearby Paul Smith’s College pool to learn freestyle and breaststroke swimming techniques. The students went through various drills and played games to help with their skills, getting plenty of exercise while taking a break from the cold weather outside.

Top: Ice Climbing Intersession group. Middle 1: Samantha ice climbs. Middle 2: All Mountain Riders Intersession group. Bottom: Justin snowboards. All photo credits: Nancie Battaglia.

Ice Climbing Intersession embraced the winter weather, heading out with harnesses and crampons to learn the basics of climbing. The group spent the week at nearby Chapel Pond and the Pitchoff Mountain cliffs, taking in the view from high on the ice walls. This year’s Intersession also saw three different student groups skiing and snowboarding around the area, taking advantage of our snowy region. The groups spent days on our own ski hill, at Whiteface Mountain, and cross-country skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg Cross Country and Biathlon Center.


Top: Melissa holds a chick. Middle: Tess and Nick unload sap buckets. Bottom: The sugarbush. 

Spring has not yet arrived on the farm, but we have already started welcoming baby animals into our barns. Our chicks arrived on campus this past week, and once we return from spring break we will begin readying the farm for lambing season. Meanwhile, Garden Manager Tess and Farm Intern Nick spent this past week up in the sugarbush tapping 700 of our maple trees. When daytime temperatures reach above freezing and overnight temperatures are still low, the maple sap runs and is collected in sap buckets.

Top: Nick taps a tree. Bottom: Maple sap running. 

Warm, sunny days this week meant the sap was flowing in many of the tapped maples, and began to run out of the spiles as soon as they were hammered into the trees. When we return from spring break we will officially begin our sugaring season, collecting full buckets in the mornings and holding sap boils throughout the afternoon and evening. The maple syrup made from boiling down the sap will be used in our dining rooms throughout the year.


Top: 9th grade hiking group. Middle: Emily and a vista. Bottom: Julia rappels.

Our 9th grade class participated in their annual trip to Utah this week, exploring that state’s beautiful protected spaces. The group hiked, skied, rappelled, and spent quality time together bonding as they ended their second-to-last term as NCS students.

Top: Hanging out at camp. Middle: David and the red rock. Bottom: 9th grade hikers. 

The group visited the Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, and Brian Head Resort before heading back to North Country School. On Saturday they joined the rest of the NCS community for Intersession Showcases, where they learned about their peers’ various Intersession activities and shared stories of their own adventures away.

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 on Friday, March 27, 2020.

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .