Photo: Octa, Lilly, and Vee harvest kale in the greenhouse.

Though the cold mountain climate makes for a short growing season on the North Country School farm, we are able to adapt to our surroundings and extend the harvest by taking advantage of our aeroponics towers and greenhouse spaces, and by growing hardy storage crops. This week, students in our 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard class spent time in the greenhouse working alongside our farm staff, helping to harvest kale that was enjoyed at dinner later that day. Meanwhile, the kitchen staff has been hard at work prepping storage crops for next week’s Family Weekend and community Thanksgiving meal. The feast will feature delicious seasonal favorites like mashed potatoes and glazed carrots, as well as the showstopper of the day: the farm-raised turkey. We can’t wait to sit down together for this festive celebration of the Fall Term, the harvest, and one another.

*Note: In order to highlight Family Weekend events including the Fall Term production of She Kills Monsters and the Thanksgiving meal, the next edition of the This Week at NCS blog will be posted on Monday, November 21, 2022.


Top: Samara helps Lucy with her world building writing project. Middle: Landon works on his writing project. Bottom: Rhaya with her writing project.

Throughout the Fall Term, our 6th-grade writing class has expanded their creative writing skills during a unit focused on world building. Over the past few weeks, students developed original characters, created detailed profiles that highlight external and internal characteristics, and made visual representations of their characters to match their descriptions. They then created a world for their character to live in, and wrote about that world by making their own version of a Tripadvisor page which included places to eat and stay, local activities and attractions, and reviews. By building out these characters and places beyond what might occur in a specific story, students were able to see how these creations took on a different level of depth and authenticity, making their writing richer and more engaging for both themselves and their readers.

Top: Campbell leads the Town Meeting activity on water. Middle: Jack, Emily, and Laurie calculate water usage. Bottom: A group measures water during the Town Meeting activity.

Each Wednesday morning after breakfast our community gathers to participate in an all-school Town Meeting activity led by a different faculty member. This week, teacher and Sustainability Coordinator Campbell took the helm, leading a dynamic activity that asked the group to think deeply and critically about global water use. Campbell began the activity by outlining the amount of total water present on Earth, the vast majority of which is saltwater in the world’s oceans, and talked about the small percentage of freshwater that is available for plant, animal, and human consumption. She then described the different ways we source fresh water around the globe. After estimating our own personal daily water use using a chart that listed different water-rated activities—which included doing dishes and laundry, brushing teeth, and cooking—each group participated in an activity in which a 1 liter bottle of water represented all the available water on Earth. Using a pipette and beaker, students removed different amounts of water to represent the amount of usable water available from different sources. After seeing the difference between total water and usable water in such a concrete way, everyone had a conversation about the different ways humans can work to further conserve this precious resource, as well as the ways we are already working to do so on a local and global scale.


Top: Josh and Ian practice “Cabinet Battle #1” from the musical Hamilton during Singing for Musical Theater class. Middle 1: A rehearsal for the fall production of She Kills Monsters. Middle 2: Lorenza reads through her lines. Middle 3: Wyatt and River rehearse a battle. Bottom: Dragon masks that will be worn during She Kills Monsters.

Students in our performing arts program have been hard at work all term putting together musical performances that will be finalized next week. This week our dance students and Singing for Musical Theater class met in the Quonset to give their peers a preview of what they’ve been working on. Everyone did a great job being supportive audience members during intricately choreographed numbers and lively versions of Broadway songs. We look forward to seeing final versions of these performances next week during a small school “Cabaret” event.

The cast and crew of She Kills Monsters has also been busy with rehearsals and run-throughs this week, incorporating newly completed props into their blocking. The play, which centers around the real lives of a group of Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts and their fantasy lives within the game, will be performed this coming Thursday and Friday for students and staff, as well as for our extended community of Family Weekend visitors. We hope to see you there!


Top: The staff-student soccer game. Middle 1: River plays in the staff-student soccer game. Middle 2: Wyatt carries the flag for the student team. Middle 3: A Saturday trip group bikes up the Whiteface toll road. Middle 4: The biking group on the Whiteface toll road. Middle 5: Joe and Matt eat Noon Mark pie on Noonmark Mountain. Bottom: The Noonmark Mountain hiking group eats Noon Mark pie on the mountain summit.

This past week we gathered together on the Upper Field during out-time to participate in a beloved NCS tradition—the staff-student soccer game. The unseasonably warm fall day provided perfect conditions for the event, which was an exciting matchup between skilled players. While the faculty ultimately took home the title, everyone was in great spirits and had fun during this friendly rivalry. A special thank you to our Director of Technology Devon, who stepped up to referee the game!

There was also lots of fun to be had this past weekend during two very different outings. One group strapped on helmets and grabbed their bikes for a ride up the Whiteface Memorial Highway, which gains 2,300 feet of elevation in 5 miles to the top of Whiteface Mountain. We are so proud of the group for accomplishing this impressive feat in good spirits while taking in the beautiful views of the Adirondack High Peaks at vistas along the way. Meanwhile, another group participated in a semi-annual North Country School outdoor tradition—the Noon Mark on Noonmark hike. The group picked up a few pies at the Noon Mark Diner, and hiked the pies, along with some cream for whipping, up Noonmark Mountain, where they were able to celebrate at the windy summit with this tasty treat.


Top: The hay delivery out-time group. Middle 1: Moving hay bales into the loft during the hay delivery out-time. Middle 2: Liz and Erica with Bo the horse during a riding out-time. Bottom: Farm Intern Lilly with our new horse, Fila.

It was a busy week over in our barnyard, complete with community work, equestrian activities, and welcoming an exciting new addition to the farm. A group of students spent one afternoon out-time up in the barn hayloft, helping to unload the heavy bales of hay that are used as food for our horses, sheep, and goats, as well as bedding for our laying hens. Each bale of hay weighs more than 40 pounds, and we are always impressed by the hard work put in, especially by our youngest students, during this important community job. Meanwhile, Barn Manager Erica had a great time taking students out to the riding ring and the trails. The warm weather and dry ground has provided us with the perfect conditions for these riding lessons, and our herd has also enjoyed the extra days of green grass to snack on before we move into the long winter of dried hay ahead.

The herd has also had another bit of excitement recently, as we welcomed a new addition to our barnyard. Fila is a 22-year-old Icelandic horse who has many years of experience working with riders and pulling a cart. She has settled into her stall nicely, and we have loved seeing students visit her during barn chores. Welcome to the NCS family, Fila!

Top: Vee harvests kale in the greenhouse. Middle 1: Tiago snacks on greenhouse-grown kale. Middle 2: Abel and Ziggy carry bins of harvested kale. Bottom: Kale growing in the greenhouse.

Over in the greenhouse, our 6th-grade Edible Schoolyard students had a healthy snack of freshly picked leaves while harvesting one of the last green-and-growing crops of the fall—cold hardy kale. Kale belongs to the brassica genus of plants that includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and turnips, all of which can withstand colder temperatures than many other crops. By planting vegetables like kale in our covered greenhouse spaces, which provide some shelter from the wind and cold overnight temperatures, we are able to grow our own food months after the last tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are harvested. The 6th-grade class spent some time carefully picking leaves from these bountiful plants, before weighing the harvest and sending it along to the dining room where it was enjoyed in the evening meal. While we won’t be able to harvest produce from the greenhouse during the coldest winter months, we will keep some of these plants in the space where they will remain dormant until overnight temperatures warm once more in the springtime. They will then become one of our earliest harvestable crops, sending up new green leaves while our spring-planted crops are just starting to emerge.

Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.

For general school information, call 518-523-9329.