students observe chickensPhoto: Anna Olivia, and Cat observe the chickens during science class.

Spring Term is winding down, and it’s hard to believe the final week of the 2023-2024 school year is nearly here! In our academic classes, students and teachers have been wrapping up the lessons they’ve been engaged with over the past several months. Our science classes have been particularly busy finishing up their hands-on projects around campus, taking advantage of the windows of beautiful weather we’ve had in between spring showers. Next Friday, we will end another fantastic term here on our mountain campus before we head into our last week of special programming, which will include Endersession, our spring theater production of “Puffs (Two Acts For Young Wizards),” and our 9th-grade graduation ceremony on May 25. We are excited to take part in these final milestones of the year together, and to celebrate our creative, thoughtful, and adventurous seniors as they embark on their next journeys.

ACADEMICS

students in a barnyarda student weighs a chickenstudents work with a goatTop: The 6th-grade Science class meets in the barnyard. Middle 1: Kingston weighs a chicken to chart its growth over time. Bottom: Emily and Eleanor run a food experiment with a farm goat.  

Over the course of the Spring Term, the 6th-grade Science class has been working on a barnyard project that puts into practice their year-long learning of the scientific method. At the beginning of the term, the class proposed individual and group projects that involved selecting an animal or group of barnyard animals to study and then developing  a hypothesis about their subjects. The students then designed their own experimental processes, which they have been employing during barnyard visits. We are excited to see the results of their studies during class next week. 

students talk about planetsa student talks about a planetlaunching a rocketstudents with a homemade rocketTop: 5th-grade Science class students begin their Solar System Walk. Middle 1: Nina teaches her peers about a planet. Middle 2: 7th-grade Science students launch rockets. Bottom: Myles and Landon with their rockets.

Two of our other science classes also got outside this week for projects that connected back to their term-long learning. Our 5th-grade science class participated in a fun Solar System Walk, during which they invited guests to join them on a to-scale walk through campus that marked the location of the sun and the planets in our solar system (with models for size that included a basketball for the sun and different seeds and office supplies for the planets). In 7th-grade Science class, students have been designing and constructing soda bottle rocket prototypes that use water and air pressure as propellant. This Monday the class took to the Upper Field, where they held an exciting launch and recorded the results of different design models, comparing their own results to those of their peers. 

ARTS

students make potterya ceramic teapotcostume design classplay propsTop: A ceramics class works on their teapots. Middle 1: An in-progress teapot. Middle 2: Costume Design class inventories their collection. Bottom: Props for the spring play. 

Creativity abounded in our art spaces this week, with our ceramics sculptors thinking creativity about a simple concept—the tea set. The group has been testing different designs and pottery-building methods throughout the term, and this week several of their whimsical projects took shape. One multi-stacked teapot received some finishing touches including an oversized handle, a figural teapot showcased a top hat lid, and a floral piece took advantage of two different clay tones for an exercise in color contrast. 

Over in the WallyPAC, other finishing touches are taking place as our Costume Design students have been assembling and cataloging different character looks and finalizing the props for each. The play is really coming together, and our entire school community is looking forward to rooting for the underdogs during the Spring Term performances of “Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” in just under two weeks.

OUTDOORS

a student on a bikea student on a bikea student group on balanced rocksTop: Ryan goes over a jump on his bike. Middle 1: Hudson bikes on the tennis court. Middle 2: Jenny jumps the gap between the rocks at Balanced Rocks. 

It was an amazing week for springtime outdoor activities, both on-campus and off. Our bike enthusiasts spent plenty of time on the Upper Field racing down the hillside, practicing tricks, and going over jumps. While our bikers have been getting some air while working on their two-wheeled skills, our hikers practiced jumps of their own on one of our favorite nearby spots—Balanced Rocks. Following in the footsteps of the generations before them, our students took turns jumping between the two huge boulders that give the impressive spot its name, all while taking in the views of campus from the wide-open viewpoint.

a student-led lessonstudents teach one anothera student car washa student washes a carTop: Matt and Matías teach an Outdoor Leadership lesson to the 4th and 5th grades. Middle 1: Owen and Jack teach an Outdoor Leadership lesson to the 4th and 5th grades. Middle 2: The 9th graders wash cars for a fundraiser. Bottom: Anika washes a car.    

Our oldest students had two different leadership and service-based opportunities this week, with Outdoor Leadership (ODL) II students teaching outdoor-related lessons to our 4th and 5th graders. One group came up with a “10 Essentials Orienteering Scavenger Hunt,” during which students received clues that taught them about 10 items people should bring on hikes. Another group led a lesson on the different types of water filtration that make water safe to drink while camping, and another tasked the young hikers with putting disposable items on a timeline based on how long they take to break down. The younger students will use what they learned from the ODL class this weekend on their own on-campus Lake Hill camping trip.

While some of our 9th-graders led ODL lessons that contributed to the learning of younger classmates, the entire 9th-grade took part in a community engagement fundraising activity that will benefit one of our beloved extended community members. Last week we learned that former NCS teacher Melissa Orzechowski was in a climbing accident in Alaska with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger Robbi Ann Mecus. The fall proved fatal for Robbi, while Melissa suffered extensive injuries. The entire 9th-grade class, most of whom are former students of Melissa’s, hosted a donation-based car wash this past week to raise funds for a GoFundMe that has been established to help with Melissa’s medical expenses. We are all wishing Melissa a smooth recovery, and we send all of our love to Robbi’s family. (Another GoFundMe, set up to raise funds to help support Robbi’s former wife and daughter, can be found here.)

FARM AND GARDEN

a student-led cooking lesson a student-led cooking lesson a student agendaTop: Nadya and Adela teach their lesson in Edible Schoolyard (ESY) Capstone class. Middle: Vivián and Kevin fry mochi with Nadya in ESY Capstone class. Bottom: Adela and Nadya’s agenda for their lesson. 

Over in our Teaching and Learning Kitchen, the oldest students in our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program had the opportunity to participate in a Capstone course that puts into practice all they’ve learned about food and farming during their years at NCS. This week the group began executing their final projects—teaching a lesson to their peers that connects to recipe creativity, food science, or their own backgrounds. Students worked in pairs to propose their projects, write out timed agendas, and source ingredients and necessary tools, before leading a class made up of their fellow ESY students. We were so proud to see the thought and care the class has been putting into their lessons, and the first dish—fried mochi with homemade sweet bean paste—was a huge success.

a student rides a horsea student watches horseback ridinga pigletTop: Elizabeth rides a horse. Middle: Trianna watches a horseback riding lesson. Bottom: One of the farm piglets. 

Spring on the farm is the perfect time for horseback riding and for visiting our array of baby animals. This past week students also spent time riding our horses during out-times, weekend trips, and Homenight activities. It is always impressive to see how quickly our student-equestrians’ skills improve, and to witness the pure joy on their faces as they participate in this special aspect of our farm program. Meanwhile, our barn was bustling with baby animals, with our fluffy—and fast-growing—lambs bouncing around in their pen, the new chicks gaining their adult feathers, and one of the newer additions to the farm, our piglets, greeting visitors with curiosity. The piglets were moved out to Dexter Pasture this week, making them the first of many of our farm creatures that will live on, and be rotated through, our campus green spaces throughout the warm seasons.