Photo: Steven carries the Thanksgiving turkey.

This week we finished up the term with many beloved North Country School traditions. Though we had to restructure some of our annual fall events in order to prioritize the health and safety of our community, it was still a week filled with joy, celebration, community connection, and gratitude.

In academic classes, students presented what they’ve been working on this term to their on-campus peers, with students living abroad and off-campus families attending presentations remotely. Our Impact theater class performed their powerful original play for our on-campus community, while families were invited to watch the recorded performance from home. We celebrated our annual Appreciation Town Meeting together as a school—gathering beside a warming bonfire on our Lake Hill to share messages of thanks and gratitude—and the week ended with a delicious Thanksgiving harvest meal made from ingredients grown on our farm.

We can’t express how much we missed the presence of families and guests as we celebrated these beloved campus traditions, but we are so glad we can include all of you in these events from afar. To watch our students’ art and academic presentations, view our fall term slideshow, and stream the Impact theater class’s original play, Rise Up, click here.

Note: North Country School is closed for Thanksgiving week, and will be offering a mix of in-person and remote programming throughout December. We look forward to having our students back on campus in January for our Winter Term. Please visit our Return from Winter Break page for an outline of the calendar for that first week in January. While these plans are subject to change, right now we expect to follow the schedule outlined on the website. Hopefully this information helps everyone begin planning a healthy return to campus in January.


Top: Lucy records weather observations. Middle 1: Tiago presents his tree poster. Middle 2: Earth science class watches energy presentations. Bottom: Tyler gives her energy presentation.

This week our students participated in some of their favorite academic activities and finished up ongoing fall term projects. In 4th-grade science class, students have spent the past several months practicing their observational skills by studying weather, and were excited the past week’s warm, sunny days made their last observations of the term a fun switch from the recent cold and snow. The class also completed their research on native trees—specifically those found on the NCS campus—and each student presented their finished tree posters to their peers. In Earth science class, our 8th-grade scientists completed their own fall term projects, ending the week by presenting their research on energy sources to their in-person classmates and to our abroad students attending remotely.

Top: Arden gives her Authors and Justice presentation. Middle 1: Arden’s Authors and Justice book. Middle 2: Anika watches an Author and Justice presentation. Bottom: Nate’s ceramic cell model.

Our 9th-grader English students also culminated weeks of research with our annual Authors and Justice Conference, where each student impersonates a famous author and fields questions on justice and social issues as it relates to their own lives and published work. Our on-campus students, along with those attending remotely, spoke passionately about social justice issues from the perspective of authors including George Orwell, Dashka Slater, Todd Strasser, and Madeleine Miller. Our 9th-grade authors also fielded questions from our NCS 5th- and 6th-graders, who attended presentations from their own classroom via Zoom.

Final projects of the term, including the creative cell diagrams completed by our biology students, were displayed around the Main Building for on-campus viewing, and presentations including the Authors and Justice Conferences are highlighted in the Fall 2020 Student Showcases, found here.


Top: Azalech and Inyene in the Impact show. Middle 1: A scene from the Impact show. Middle 2: Arden plays the violin in the Impact show. Middle 3: 4th- through 7th-grade cohort watches the Impact show. Bottom: A dance scene in the Impact show.

Students in Impact theater class ended the fall term with two performances of their original play, Rise Up—one for our 4th- through 7th-graders and one for our 8th- and 9th-graders—in order to prioritize the health and safety of the community. The powerful play tackles current global and social justice issues including the COVID health crisis, ongoing Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests, and social isolation, and includes original music and choreography by NCS teachers and students. It was an incredibly moving experience, and we were so proud of our talented and thoughtful students who felt empowered to use their voices to speak out for justice and equality.

Top: Treehouse class with their finished project. Middle 1: Alice’s photo from her fall term photography project. Middle 2: Langlang with her woodshop tray. Bottom: Adyan’s basket and fiber art weavings.

This week the students in our fall Community Projects class finished work on the new campus treehouse, located on the wooded trails behind the Main Building. The class has been constructing their original treehouse design over the course of the fall term, and we were excited to see their innovative vision—made from reclaimed materials collected around campus—come together. Our art students also finished up work on their individual projects this past week, with photography student Alice, who has been attending NCS remotely from China, completed her beautiful collection of daily photos depicting what she sees around her each day. 7th-grader Langlang put the finishing touches on the wooden tray she has been working on in woodshop class, while our youngest students completed the woven baskets, belts, and bags they have been working on in fiber arts class this term.

To watch the Impact original play, Rise Up, along with other student art presentations and projects, click here.


Top: JT rides a horse. Middle 1: Brian climbs Baxter Mountain. Middle 2: Faculty and staff in WARP costumes. Bottom: Final WARP battle.

We enjoyed a beautiful final week of the term in our mountain home, and took full advantage of the mild conditions both around campus and in the surrounding Adirondack Park. Students spent some time on horseback in the riding ring and out exploring campus trails, while others hiked some of the quieter peaks located close to campus. This week also marked the final battle in our ongoing WARP (Wilderness Action Role Play) event, with our 9th-grade warriors defeating their adversaries and successfully completing their magical quest.

Top: Appreciation Town Meeting bonfire. Middle 1: Giving thanks at the Appreciation Town Meeting. Middle 2: The community gathers on the Lake Hill for the Appreciation Town Meeting. Bottom: The appreciation board.

The Appreciation Town Meeting is a beloved North Country School tradition that we celebrate each year before heading off campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. Most years we join together as a community in the Dining Room to share the many things we are grateful for, recording the list as we go. This year, in order to prioritize the health and safety of our teachers and students, we gathered on the Lake Hill beside a warming bonfire to express our gratitude for one another. While this fall term has looked different than previous years in many ways, we have been continuously impressed by the resilience and flexibility of our students, teachers, and families as we worked together to preserve so much of what makes North Country School special. Ending the term in this way—together, outside, and with the spectacular view of our surrounding mountainscape—was the perfect way to celebrate this remarkable place, one another, and the ongoing efforts that have made these past few months possible.


Top: Rachel and Ani talk about global food issues at ESY PieLab. Middle 1: A PieLab conversation prompt. Middle 2: Brain and Melissa talk at ESY PieLab. Bottom: Julia’s ESY Thank You card for the farm.

This week our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes finished the fall term with many of the traditions we celebrate each year. Though they weren’t able to organize our usual, student-prepared community harvest meal, we still brought our 7th-grade class together—in the dining room this year instead of their classroom—for the annual and much-loved ESY PieLab lesson.

PieLab is the name of an Alabama-based restaurant that opened in 2009 on the premise that when a community has a welcoming place to sit and eat, open conversation and positive social change take place. In Edible Schoolyard class, we recreated that experience with homemade rhubarb jam from our farm, fresh-baked scones, lavender shortbread cookies, and tea made from our garden herbs. Using an envelope of conversations prompts, students and campus adults engaged in discussions on food justice, animal agriculture, and their family cultures and histories. The PieLab lesson will be referenced throughout the remainder of the academic year as our 7th graders learn more about food access and food justice. In our younger Edible Schoolyard classes, students carried on their tradition of writing and illustrating thank you cards for the farm, garden, and kitchen staff. The colorful and kind cards were prominently displayed in the Main Building foyer for our community Thanksgiving meal.

A New York Times article about the original PieLab can be found here: Pie + Design = Change.

Top: NCS kitchen staff serves the Thanksgiving meal. Middle 1: NCS farm squash. Middle 2: Steven and Todd carve the Thanksgiving turkey. Middle 3: Wyatt eats a turkey leg. Bottom: The Thanksgiving meal.

The community Thanksgiving meal is a longstanding North Country School tradition that, throughout our long history, has invited families, friends, faculty, students, and alumni to our mountain campus to share in a festive farm-based feast. This year our NCS Thanksgiving meal looked quite a bit different than it has in the past, but our farmers, kitchen staff, teachers, and students all worked together to make sure that it was still a special event filled with good friends, delicious food, and gratitude.

Though we weren’t able to invite families to our campus this year, our student cohorts and their teachers still celebrated the harvest meal, feasting on farm-raised turkey and sausage alongside carrots, squash, and green beans grown in our gardens. Our 8th- and 9th- graders also celebrated the annual tradition of honoring the student who has attended NCS for the longest amount of time. This year, 9th grader Steven—who has attended North Country School since 5th grade—carried the honorary Thanksgiving bird, which was then carved by Executive Director Todd Ormiston. Though Steven’s family was unable to attend in person, they watched and celebrated via Zoom as he received this honor. We also participated in a new fun tradition of raffling off our giant turkey legs, and students including Wyatt, Alea, and Adyan enjoyed this bountiful addition to their harvest plate.

Like countless aspects of our program throughout these past nine months, our NCS Thanksgiving meal involved a great deal of adaptation, creativity, flexibility, and collaboration in order to prioritize the health and safety of our community. We couldn’t be prouder with how our students, staff, faculty, and families have responded to these challenges, supporting one another with kindness and the characteristic resourceful resilience that makes North Country School so special. We continue to be grateful for one another, and for all of you in our extended NCS community.

We hope you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday.

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