At North Country School we appreciate the value of connecting academic curriculum to the surrounding environment, and the surrounding environment here on our 220-acre campus is rich with learning opportunities. For the past several weeks, our 6th-grade science class took place at our barn, where students observed our farm’s goats, sheep, chickens, and horses for an ongoing research project. We are also committed to fostering connections between our campus and the surrounding community, and this week we were excited to welcome guest teachers and 2nd-grade students from nearby Lake Placid Elementary School for farm-based education programming. The visiting group explored our gardens, greenhouses, and Teaching and Learning Kitchen, harvesting, preparing, and tasting the food grown on the soil beneath their feet.
In 6th grade science class, students are doing a long-term study of individual animals at and around the barn. Each student chose an animal and developed research questions on the topics of animal health and behavior. After completing their day’s research on the small wild mammals living around the barn, students Mia and Dominica spent some time observing our flock of chickens. Will is working with our friendly goat kids, watching and recording how they choose to interact with a ball brought into their pen. Brian, Kentaro, and Samantha are studying health and behavior of individual horses, and worked with barn manager Erica to weigh the animals and measure their coats to determine the rate of their hair growth. Brian and Kentaro also ran a food test for their horse subject, Sterling, where they offered Sterling four different piles of food (grain with molasses, clover, carrots, and apples), and observed his food preferences. The data collected from the students’ tests and observations will be used to make lab write-ups later in the fall term.
Students in Meredith’s beginning Japanese class are recording and editing short videos sharing their names, hometowns, ages, and other facts about themselves in Japanese. The videos will be subtitled in both English and Japanese, which will allow them to practice their Japanese-language typing skills.
This week we were thrilled to begin holding performing arts classes in our newly completed WallyPAC building. Courtney’s directing class had the honor of being the first group to use that space, and this week they continued their work on selected scenes from published plays. The group, which includes students Emily, Sonya, Ezra, Colton, and Inyene, have been working on their individual director’s vision statements throughout fall term, and are now blocking out their scenes to highlight those visions. The class worked together to run lines from their various works, including Emily’s guided selection scene from 12 Angry Men.
In Sierra’s Darkroom Photography class, students are learning how to develop prints from negatives. The group, which includes students Frank, Isabella, and Eden, examined their negatives and selected their favorite images. They then used different exposure times to make a batch of prints, and reviewed those prints with Sierra for feedback. Their favorite final prints will be displayed throughout the Main Building for our upcoming Thanksgiving Family Weekend.
This past weekend our students ventured out into the surrounding Adirondack region to hike, bike, and explore. A group of students including Jenny, Jessica, Ezra, and Paula, braved cold winds at the spectacular viewpoint of nearby Indian Head—one of the most photographed spots in the Adirondack Park. Another group including students including Evie, Hart, and Nate, traveled to nearby Wilmington to visit the Adirondack Dirt Jump Park. The group spent the day practicing their mountain biking skills and working on jumps on the park’s pump track and in the skills park.
Students on a double-overnight camping trip slept in our on-campus yurt, using that as a home base for Adirondack exploration. The group, including students Kentaro, Justin, Olivia, and Sonya visited the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and saw some rehabilitated animals, and walked up the scenic Whiteface Mountain toll road to see sprawling views of the surrounding mountain range.
Last weekend the students in our Impact theater class traveled to Massachusetts for a double-overnight trip. Impact is a class focused on positive social change and personal expression, and each year the class takes a trip focused on experiencing professional theater and viewing thought-provoking visual art. The group, which included students Azalech, Ella, and Elizabeth, visited Mass MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art), visited Boston Commons, and saw a professional production of the surprisingly moving Spongebob Squarepants musical. The show centers around themes of home and belonging, and those same themes will be the focus of the Impact class’s own original production later this term.
FARM AND GARDEN
This week we welcomed a visiting group of forty-five 2nd graders and their teachers from Lake Placid Elementary School to our campus. The group spent the morning with Garden Manager Tess and Wynde Kate Reese—the owner of a local natural food store and parent of an NCS student—touring the gardens and greenhouses, tasting herbs and vegetables from the field, and learning about the seasonal cycles of growing. The group also spent some time in our new Teaching and Learning Kitchen, where they roasted vegetables picked from our gardens and made herb-yogurt dip using herbs from the Children’s Garden. The tour ended with a trip to our rotating drum composter, where the students were able to witness the different parts of the composting process that turns food scraps from our dining room into nutrient-rich soil amendment for our fields.
In 7th grade Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes, students began to prepare for our annual ESY Thanksgiving Dinner. The dinner, which takes place in the week before our schoolwide Thanksgiving celebration and Family Weekend, is prepared by NCS students in the ESY program and features dishes made predominantly from ingredients grown and raised on the NCS campus. The meal is served to the greater school community and gives our kitchen staff a much-deserved break in the week before their largest prepared meal of the year. Garden Manager Tess and ESY teacher Elie helped students chopped campus-grown carrots for herb stuffing and chicken pot pie, and the classes listened to a radio piece aired by North Country Public Radio in 2016 (and re-aired at Thanksgiving in 2017) about our annual farm-to-table event.
To hear the original NCPR piece about Edible Schoolyard Thanksgiving, click here.
Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.
For more information about the #This Week At NCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .