Photo: Sierra and Jenny look at a test print in the photo lab.

At North Country School, our guiding principle of “art every day” provides students the opportunity to pursue their passions and discover new avenues for self expression. We love watching our students explore their creative voices and visions during their time at NCS, whether it be while developing darkroom prints in our photography classes, writing scripts in our theater and film classes, or creating installation projects in our metal art classes. Our students have a lot to say about the world around them, and we are continuously impressed by the many ways they use art to express themselves.

We look forward to sharing some of the powerful work that has been produced in our art spaces throughout the Fall Term with the greater community during next week’s Student Showcases and Impact theater performance.

Note: In order to include next week’s Thanksgiving meal and other fall term special events, the next #ThisWeekAtNCS blog entry will be posted on Monday, November 22.


Top: Abigail presents her cell project to biology class. Middle: Lily and her cell project. Bottom: A needle felted cell project.

We saw creative connections made and knowledge shared during our academic classes this week. In 9th-grade science class, these connections came in the form of one of our favorite projects of the year—student-made cell models. Our 9th grade biology students worked on building their cell models over the past month, and this week they presented the completed projects to their peers. The models were constructed from a variety of materials including clay, paper, and wool shorn from our campus sheep. Each student’s scientific observation skills and artistic interests were woven into their final model, which displayed the different organelles and membrane-bound nucleus present in these cell structures.

Top: ESL class talks to Director of School Matt Smith. Middle 1: Book recommendation time in 8th-grade English class. Middle 2: Joseph reads in the Community Lounge. Bottom: The 8th-grade book recommendation wall.

In English as a Second Language (ESL) class, students have been reading the novel Nothing But The Truth, by Avi, which features characters including students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. The class used what they’ve been reading to interview Director of School Matt Smith about how he has held each of these roles over the course of his lifetime. Students David and Enola asked Matt if his own experiences as a student, parent, teacher, and school administrator corresponded with how the book portrayed those roles The lesson allowed the class to connect the book to their own lives, and reframed “the principal’s office” as a positive place of learning as opposed to the disciplinary space it represents in the book.

Our 8th-grade English students also focused on the books they’ve been reading this term during their weekly book sharing activity. Students in the class can tell their peers about the books they’ve read, and recommend the books they’ve enjoyed to others. The books are then added to the reading board displayed in the 8th-grade classroom. We are always thrilled to see how the North Country School learning environment gives students the time and space to discover a love of reading, and can’t help but smile each time we see the recommended books loaned to others and discussed between classes.


Top: Adela and Alice in Metal Sculpture Class. Middle 1: Metal Sculpture Class scouts locations for their kraken installation. Middle 2: Emily works on her needle felting project. Middle 3: Eleanor’s needle felting project. Middle 4: Sierra and Sean look at a test print in the photo lab. Bottom: Sean and Alejandro in the darkroom.

There was artistic expression to be found all around campus this week, with our studio and industrial art students gaining hands-on experience in a variety of mediums. In Metal Sculpture Class, students scouted for the perfect location outside the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to begin installing their large metal kraken sculpture. Work on the project will continue with next term’s Metal Sculpture Class, and, once complete, the installation will consist of many individual pieces installed alongside one another.

Studio art students spent time outside in the sunshine as well as indoors in the darkroom as they saw their final projects of the term near completion. Our 4th-grade artists met outside the studio art room to work on whimsical needle-felted creatures made using wool from our sheep. Meanwhile, students in darkroom photography class created a series of test prints of their favorite shots of the term. The final projects from both classes will be added to the gallery displays located throughout the Main Building and WallyPAC as the term draws to a close next week.

Top: Colton looks at art. Middle: Katie, Adela, and Samara look at art. Bottom: Lauren performs at the gallery showing.

Students were able to share their art with the campus community during the art show opening in the WallyPAC’s Lansbury Family Gallery this past Wednesday. A few of our student-musicians performed as attendees took in the beautiful paper prints, woven tapestries, woodshop projects, and ceramic sculptures that decorated the bright space. We are excited to have other members of our extended community enjoy this work next week during Student Showcases and our Impact theater production.


Top: A hiking group on the Phelps Mountain summit. Middle 1: A group hikes up Big Slide Mountain. Middle 2: The Rand Ridge hiking group celebrates James achieving his NCS 10. Bottom: The NCS Outdoor Program bulletin board explains different NCS outdoor achievements.

The 6-million acre Adirondack Park provides the NCS community with countless opportunities to enjoy nature and recreate, while gaining new skills and learning how to work together. Students at NCS hail from all over the world, and come to our mountain home with a wide variety of interests, but most leave our campus with a passion for the outdoors and a deep love of the natural world around them. One of the ways we instill our Outdoor Program with a bit of extra fun is by celebrating specific student achievements, and one such achievement is completing the NCS 10.

The NCS 10 challenge refers to the ten peaks that can be seen surrounding the North Country School campus. The hikes range from the relatively easy scramble up Trouble viewpoint, which is located right on campus, to the summit of Mount Marcy, the highest mountain in New York State. Students that hike all of these peaks are celebrated by the entire school community, and their names are placed in a book with the others who have completed their own NCS 10 challenge. This past Saturday, 8th-grader James became our first NCS 10-er of the year after he bushwhacked to Rand Ridge, a nearby peak named in honor of beloved and recently passed NCS teacher Don Rand. Congratulations, James, for joining the short list of NCS students and adults who have completed this impressive feat!

Top: The student-staff soccer game. Middle: Running in the student-staff soccer game. Bottom: Brynn and Mavi watch the student-staff soccer game.

This week we also participated in another beloved NCS tradition with our staff-student soccer game. The community met on the Upper Field during this past Tuesday’s out-time for the exciting game. Students and teachers took turns playing and cheering for one another from the sidelines throughout the well-matched event, which ended in a 3-3 tie. The energetic game was enjoyed by all, and was a great way to celebrate the beautiful autumn weather as we anticipate more snow and colder days arriving in upcoming weeks.


Top: The 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard class by the horseradish bed. Middle 1: Katie helps Julia trim horseradish. Middle 2: Julia, Lucy, and Landon peel horseradish. Bottom: Octa peels horseradish.

With freezing overnight temperatures setting in and sparkling frost decorating the ground each morning, we are likely at the very end of our garden harvest season on the North Country School farm. This past week our 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard students helped harvest one of the final produce items of the year—our perennial horseradish crop. The group gathered in our Children’s Garden to learn how to dig up these hefty roots. After watching a demonstration, each student trimmed, washed, peeled, and chopped their own roots. The pungent crop, which will be ground up and mixed with vinegar, will be stored in the refrigerator for use over the next several months. Horseradish is one of the many cold-hardy perennial crops in our garden, and we look forward to the plant’s bright green leaves pushing out of the soil during next spring’s thaw.