Photo: 6th-grader Evie sits in a tree at home.

At North Country School, we believe that childhood should be a time to explore, to learn, and to play. The “in-between-years” are when many of us discover our strengths, venture into new spaces, and explore the interests that we will carry with us through our lives. Creating a sanctuary for childhood, a place where children can safely find themselves, has never felt more urgent than it does in today’s world.

We at North Country School have loved receiving updates from our extended community as they find creative opportunities for joy and play, and we are grateful for the continued privilege of creating that safe place for the children in our care. This past week, as the students on our mountain campus dressed up for Spirit Week and spent time canoeing and building in the sand by Round Lake, we were excited to see photos of NCS families near and far exploring and playing in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are committed to continuing to develop creative new ways to help children find themselves as they explore the wonder of the world around them, and know that you will be right there with us, whatever challenges may come our way.

Please keep sending us your photos, and we will add them to our NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Email photos to Becca Miller at .

Note: Our campus is closed to all students for the remainder of the school year, with the exception of the international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These 18 students, along with our houseparents and faculty, are staying on campus and enjoying outdoor adventures in the contiguous wilderness during this time. They have been and will continue to take appropriate safety and prevention measures.


Top: Rob teaches 7th-grade science class from campus. Middle 1: An online resource for Rob’s class’s science project. Middle 2: Colin teaches 4th- and 5th-grade science from home. Bottom: Kalina’s project for Colin’s class

Our 7th-grade science class has been spending the past few weeks learning about electricity. This week, students worked with their teacher, Rob, to begin their independent research projects on the different ways we generate the electricity that powers modern life. Rob worked with the class as a group over Zoom, before spending time with individual students to talk through their own research ideas. The final presentations will cover topics including hydroelectric power, wind power, and solar power, and will highlight the pros and cons of using different energy sources, such as their efficiency and environmental impact.

Meanwhile, the 4th- and 5th-graders in Colin’s science class have been learning about island ecology, running experiments to see how island geography and size help to determine the biodiversity found on different islands. The class took a virtual field trip to the Kon Tiki museum in Oslo, Norway, and examined different models of an original Kon Tiki raft from the 1947 expedition to the Polynesian islands. Students were then tasked to create their own raft at home. 5th-grader Kalina constructed her raft using materials found outside and recycled from her house, and proudly showed her finished project to her classmates over Zoom.

Top: Melissa teaches 8th-grade English from campus. Bottom: 8th-grader Eliza works on her poetry for English class.

In Melissa’s 8th-grade English class, students submitted original poetry written for their class anthology to the Adirondack Center for Writing’s annual PoemVillage event. In past years, work submitted for PoemVillage has been displayed around nearby Saranac Lake, but this year the Adirondack Center for Writing has adapted the event and moved the exhibit online. Students in Melissa’s class, including Eliza, Teagan, and Cecy, submitted their work to the online PoemVillage, where several poems will be selected and displayed each day. To read poems written by students and North Country residents, click here.


Top: Canoeing on Round Lake. Middle 1: 6th-grader Kentaro builds in the sand. Middle 2: 7th-grader Amon becomes a sand person. Bottom: Tony paddles on Round Lake.

This week provided the first truly warm days of the season, much to the delight of our campus students and adults, with clear blue skies and temperatures inching toward the sixties. This Saturday we celebrated the spring conditions on our lakefront, where students donned life jackets to paddle canoes and row peanut-shell boats around Round Lake. The boys living in Mountain House also spent some time building aqueducts and cities out of sand, and 7th-grader Amon completed his transformation into a sand person.

Top: 5th-grader Duncan and his father dress as twins for Spirit Week. Middle 1: 7th-grader Daven and teacher Isaac become twins for Spirit Week. Middle 2: The 4th- and 5th-grade class wears hats for Spirit Week. Bottom: Barn Manager Erica wears pajamas for Spirit Week.

Spirit Week is a beloved North Country School spring tradition, and this week we celebrated the silly week of dress-up together despite the distances between us. Some of our students sent updates from home showing their families’ Twin Day outfits, while 7th-grader Daven became a long-distance twin with his English teacher, Isaac. The two lookalikes held a meeting over Zoom to discuss classwork, with Isaac attending from the NCS campus and his twin Daven joining in from his North Country home. Our 4th- and 5th-graders met together for class on Hat Day, while Barn Manager Erica celebrated Pajama Day down at the barn with some newly arrived baby chicks.


Top: 6th-grader Evie gardens at home. Middle 1: 7th-grader Olivia has a campfire at home. Middle 2: 9th-grader Bladen bakes cookies for his father’s birthday. Bottom: 7th-grader Sonya bakes cheesecake muffins.

Few things have brought us more joy throughout this time than seeing members of our extended community practicing their North Country School skills and interests from home. This week we were excited to see photos of our students and their families spending time in the outdoors, whether it be working in a springtime garden like 6th-grader Evie, or doing yard work and relaxing in the woods like 7th-grader Olivia. We also received more updates from students as they and their families cooked and baked together. 9th-grader Bladen spent time in the kitchen baking chocolate chip cookies for his father’s birthday, while 7th-grader Sonya used her Edible Schoolyard skills to improvise a batch of delicious-looking cheesecake muffins.

Top: Faculty child Pete helps put up a new campus sculpture. Middle: 8th-grader Ella and her brother, Pete, help their father, Larry, finish the sap-bucket sculpture. Bottom: Emet in his new home in the sugarbush.

Though much of our community is now connecting to one other across great distances, those of us who are currently living on the North Country School campus have continued to find new ways to take advantage of our 220-acre playground. Art teacher Larry spent the past several weeks working with his family and several of our on-campus students on a new addition to our campus’s many metal sculpture installations—Emet the sap-bucket golem. This past week Emet (which means “truth” in Hebrew) was brought to his new home in our campus sugarbush. Emet was made out of over fifty old sap buckets that have been used over the years to collect the maple sap that we boil into syrup. Instead of heading toward a landfill, the buckets will now live a second life as part of our campus’s eclectic art collection.


Top: Students enjoy the Upper Field on a sunny day. Middle 1: 7th-grader Isabella draws a campus spruce tree. Middle 2: Seedlings in the greenhouse. Bottom: Cilantro growing in the greenhouse.

The students living on the North Country School campus got outside in the spring sunshine this week to do some nature drawing on the Upper Field. The girls living in Cascade House spent some time sketching a giant spruce tree that grows next to Camp Treetops’ Main House. The group, which includes students Isabella, Cocona, and Sally, are using their drawings to help NCS teacher and artist Gavi bring some of the outdoors into the Main Building via the newly constructed Community Lounge climbing structure. The space, once complete, will be painted with a nature scene showing many of the native plants growing around the NCS campus, including spruce, birch, and beech trees.

Meanwhile, over in the greenhouse, our cultivated plants have been thriving thanks to the work of Garden Manager Tess (along with some student and adult helping hands). Seedlings headed for our annual flower bed are unfurling new leaves by the day and will be ready to go into the ground come late May, while the cilantro plants in the back greenhouse are now large enough to be harvested for use in our dining room.

Top: Barn Manager Erica settles the chicks into their new home. Middle: New baby chicks. Bottom: Erica hangs out with lambs on Hat Day for Spirit Week.

The barn staff welcomed the newest addition to our farm this week with the arrival of new batches of turkey and meat-bird chicks. Barn Manager Erica helped the fuzzy birds get settled into their temporary home under warming lights, where they will live until the days are a bit warmer. Erica also celebrated Spirit Week alongside another new member of the farm this past week, donning a hat for Hat Day next to one of our newborn lambs (who was also getting into the Hat Day spirit). We currently have fourteen lambs in our flock, and are eagerly awaiting births from two remaining ewes.

Join us as we watch our flock live via the Lamb Cam, streaming from our sheep barn throughout lambing season.

We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and that your communities are caring for and supporting one another. We will continue to update you about our community throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach out to us as well.


Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time. Last week, she talked about how to focus on our positive traits to be our best selves.

Tuesdays: Creature Query Barn Manager Erica Burns will be answering questions about the animals on our farm using fun and educational videos. This past week’s Creature Query introduced us to our newly arrived turkey chicks. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?- Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie Rabinowitz, along with other community members, will provide simple recipes and cooking resources you can use to prepare delicious meals at home with your families. This past week staff writer Becca Miller showed us how to make root vegetable fridge pickles. Check out all of the recipes on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Thursdays: Birding with Jack- 6th grade English teacher Jack Kiernan will offer the NCS community an opportunity to connect through the world of birds by providing the resources to become familiar with birds that our community is seeing around the globe. If you are out for a walk or sitting at home, looking out the window, take a moment to log the birds you see with the NCS eBird account. Last week Jack taught us about Dark-eyed Juncos, a bird that loves to visit Adirondack bird feeders. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. Last week Meredith talked about “Ki wo tsukete kudasai,” which means “please take care of yourself.”

Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity- Every Saturday at 8 p.m., NCS teacher Larry Robjent, along with other NCS faculty, will be hosting fun activities similar to those typically held on campus with students. Participate live from home with your own families. Last week featured NCS/CTT Trivia, while this week will be a special talent show.

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