Photo: The kitchen staff and farm staff with the Thanksgiving meal.

The final week of North Country School’s Fall Term is one filled with creativity, gratitude, and joy. It is a time when we recognize the hard work and learning that has taken place since we arrived on campus in September, a time when we gather together to celebrate the harvest season and one another.

In academic classes, students shared all they’ve been learning by presenting thoughtfully researched and creative projects to their peers. Our artists brought their paintings, photographs, sculptures, and weavings up from studio spaces and displayed the beautiful work in our campus galleries. Our talented dancers and musicians performed the pieces they’ve been working on throughout the term, and we all watched with rapt attention as the cast and crew of She Kills Monsters put on a performance filled with powerful emotion, eye-popping costumes, and fantastical set designs. We also continued the tradition of holding an Appreciation Town Meeting, during which students, faculty, and staff were given the opportunity to recognize the many positive ways they’ve impacted one another over the past few months.

We ended the week by welcoming our extended community to campus for Family Weekend, and our students were all smiles as they shared their work with families and guests before we joined together for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. The delicious meal is the culmination of the growing season on our farm, and is prepared with ingredients grown, raised, and harvested by our community throughout the summer and fall. The event was a wonderful way to end a term filled with moments of celebration and appreciation, and it served as the perfect reminder of all we have to be grateful for.

*Note: We will return from our week-long Thanksgiving break on Sunday, November 27. The next This Week At NCS blog update will be posted on Friday, December 9.


Top: Laurie completes her 7th-grade poetry project. Middle 1: Emma’s poetry project. Middle 2: Matías and Marley read 8th-grade poetry. Middle 3: Joel reads one of his poems aloud. Middle 4: Joseph as George Orwell during the Authors and Justice Conference. Middle 5: Liz presents her cell model. Bottom: Enola attends the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

This past week students in both our 7th- and 8th-grade English classes ended their units on poetry by completing original projects. The 7th-grade students finished creating 3D constructions, which contained their original writings and offered readers a new way to interact with their written work. Meanwhile, our 8th-grade poets spent time binding their class’s Poetry Anthology books before attending the Fall Term Anthology Café. Everyone enjoyed hot cocoa and pastries while perusing the student-designed books and listening to one another read their work aloud. Our 9th-grade English class participated in a favorite annual activity, the Authors and Justice Conference, during which each student acts as a famous author and responds to questions about the themes of social justice, equity, and identity in their author’s writing. We are always proud of our oldest students as they participate in this thoughtful activity, making connections between the concepts in these books and their own lives.

In 9th-grade science class, students shared their work by displaying the cell model projects they’ve been working on all term. Each student in the class built a plant or animal cell out of materials of their choosing, which this year included pasta, cake, wood from our campus, and reclaimed metal scraps. The final pieces were presented to their peers, who were excited to see the creative materials used in this annual project. Our 9th-graders also had the opportunity to talk about environmental science while connecting to other students in our region during the annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The summit invites high school students from around the Adirondack Park to discuss pressing environmental issues like climate justice, pollution, and sustainable fashion while working together to create their own Climate Action Plans.

Top: Students in Japanese class introduce themselves during Academic Showcases. Middle 1: The 4th-grade science class tells their families about their tree projects during Academic Showcases. Middle 2: The 5th-grade rock biographies. Bottom: The 5th-grade class reads “A Rock is Lively” during Academic Showcases.

Before leaving campus for Thanksgiving break, we invite our extended community of families and guests to NCS for Family Weekend. A highlight of their time on campus is the Academic Showcases, during which guests are welcomed into classroom spaces to see lessons and participate in activities. This Saturday morning families watched our Japanese students recite tongue-twisters in their newly learned language; listened to our 4th-graders’ read original stories about native trees; and learned interesting facts about geology from our 5th-grade rock experts, who shared their rock biography posters and read aloud from “A Rock is Lively.”


Top: Rock Band class performs a song. Middle 1: Claire performs in the 5th-grade band. Middle 2: The “Rise Up” dance group performs. Middle 3: A collaborative painting on display in the Lansbury Family Art Gallery. Bottom: A Family Weekend guest looks at fiber art display. 

Family Weekend also offers our extended community the chance to attend the performances our art students have been working on throughout the term. On Friday night, families gathered in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to see our band classes bring the house down with renditions of “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and to watch our dancers perform originally choreographed pieces with energy and emotion. During breaks in the performances, everyone was invited to view the artwork displayed in the Main Building and the Lansbury Family Art Gallery. The impressive pieces included collaborative paintings, vibrant weavings, surrealist photographs, and handmade clocks constructed from local lumber.

Top: Dexter and River in She Kills Monsters. Middle 1: River and Rosalie battle the Bugbears. Middle 2: The cast of She Kills Monsters confront an enemy. Middle 3: River battles the Tiamat dragon. Middle 4: The cast of She Kills Monsters mourn a friend. Bottom: The cast of She Kills Monsters take their bows.

This Thursday and Friday marked our theater performances of She Kills Monsters, a show about the relationships between a group of Dungeons & Dragons players both within the game and in their real lives. It was a powerful show, one that touched upon issues of identity, family, love, and friendship, all while including plenty of humor and excitement. Congratulations to our cast, crew, costume designers, and stagecraft students for putting together this incredible piece of theater!


Top: A Saturday trip group visits the Copperas Pond lean-to. Middle: Luke, Alvaro, and Martin get CPR/AED certified. Bottom: Outdoor Leadership students with their CPR/AED certificates. 

This week our students were able to see how their actions can positively affect others during a weekend hiking trip and in the Outdoor Leadership Program. On Saturday, a group of students visited the Copperas Pond lean-to, which was adopted by North Country School (NCS) and Camp Treetops (CTT) several years ago. NCS students and CTT campers visit the lean-to a few times each year to collect trash, check the log book, and make sure the structure is in good shape. On this visit everyone was excited to see that this beautiful waterfront spot has been well cared for over the past few months, and that there was barely any trash to carry out. To read more about NCS/CTT’s role as Copperas Pond lean-to adopters in Adirondac magazine, click here.

Meanwhile, students in our Outdoor Leadership Program reached an important milestone in building their backcountry health-and-safety skills by finishing their CPR/AED training. We are so proud of our outdoor leaders for achieving this goal, and for the hard work and dedication they displayed as they learned these important life-saving techniques.

Top: Laurie enjoys the snow. Middle: Marley throws a snowball. Bottom: Oliver sleds.

This week marked a much anticipated moment on the North Country School campus—the first major snowfall. The fresh powder covering our trails and fields provided the perfect playground for sledding, snowball fights, fort building, and cross-country skiing. We look forward to returning to campus after Thanksgiving break for a winter season filled with these beloved activities, as well as alpine skiing and snowboarding on our own Ski Hill and at nearby Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort during Winter Term Whiteface Days.


Top: The 4th- and 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard class makes “thank you” cards. Middle 1: “Thank you” cards hung in the dining room foyer. Middle 2: The dining room set up for Edible Schoolyard’s PieLab Café. Bottom: Roan and Karina talk about food preferences during the PieLab activity.

Students in our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes participated in two community-oriented NCS activities this week, with our younger students writing and drawing “thank you” cards to our farm and kitchen staffs to recognize their hard work and contributions to the NCS community, and our oldest students participating in the annual ESY PieLab Café.

PieLab is an activity inspired by an Alabama-based restaurant of the same name, that was founded in 2009 with the goal of providing a welcoming place for community members from different backgrounds to eat and have open conversations with one another. In ESY class, students made homemade cookies and pastries, and invited faculty, staff, and other classes to the dining room to share food and have conversations related to food justice, animal agriculture, and individual family histories. It was wonderful to see everyone have thoughtful conversations about these topics while learning more about the people we see every day. To learn more about the original PieLab restaurant, click here: Pie + Design = Change.

Top: Students read a version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. Middle 1: Vee reads a section of the Thanksgiving Address. Middle 2: Todd carves the turkey brought out by 9th-grader Jenny. Middle 3: The Thanksgiving meal. Middle 4: Thanking the kitchen staff and helpers for the meal. Bottom: The Thanksgiving pies.

This Saturday we gathered together in the dining room with our extended community to celebrate the harvest season and one another during our community Thanksgiving meal. We began the meal with a Land Acknowledgement and the student-led reading of an adapted version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. The Haudenosaunee, who are the Indigenous people of the Adirondack region, recite this offering of gratitude during group gatherings, and everyone in attendance was welcomed to participate in the recitation of this address.

We also celebrated the annual tradition of having the student who has attended NCS for the longest amount of time bring out the honorary Thanksgiving turkey to Executive Director Todd Ormiston for carving. This year 9th-grader Jenny brought out the nearly 40-pound, NCS-raised bird, before everyone sat down to enjoy farm-grown and homemade dishes including maple glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, and roast turkey. It was a wonderful meal that highlighted the bounty of delicious ingredients that come from our campus, as well as the many hands involved in the growing, raising, harvesting, and cooking of the food that sustains us.


Top: Larry introduces the Appreciation Town Meeting. Middle 1: Liz scribes during the Appreciation Town Meeting. Middle 2: Students give thanks during the Appreciation Town Meeting. Bottom: Notes of thanks from the Appreciation Town Meeting.

Each year we end the Fall and Spring Terms with Appreciation Town Meetings, where we recognize the many ways we have positively impacted one another during our time at NCS. This Wednesday we met in the WallyPAC theater for this activity, during which students, faculty, and staff were able to express gratitude toward one another. Attendees recognized people who had given them support and guidance, like while participating in barn chores for the first time; or offered small acts of kindness that had large impacts, like providing a shoulder to lean on after a hard day. As always, it was a powerful experience that reminded us of the importance of taking the time to tell people that their actions and words can make a difference, and that expressing gratitude is an important part of caring for our community.