Photo: Bryan helps Ella carry a turkey. 

At North Country School, the concepts of community and sustainability are woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. We honor these values in many ways, but they are particularly evident during our community farm harvests. This week our campus community took part in several different autumn harvest events, including the picking and storing of our annual carrot crop, as well as the harvest of the turkeys and chickens that will provide us with meat for the upcoming year.

Vegetable harvest days are fun and joyful community events where we can enjoy the fruits of our hard work and patience, while the days we harvest our farm animals are filled with reverence, reflection, and respect. During our bird harvests, we recognize and appreciate the turkeys and chickens that our community has raised from chicks and cared for during daily barn chores. Bird harvests are “challenge by choice” opportunities, which allow students to be involved to whatever extent they feel able as they learn the steps that bring humanely-raised meat to our plates. They are powerful days for everyone, where students and teachers work together as we are reminded of the many hands it takes to support a community, the ever-changing cycles of farm life, and our own connection to the animals that help sustain us.

To learn more about this year’s harvests, see this week’s Farm and Garden section at the bottom of this post.


Top: Grace and Steven in Global Issues class. Middle 1: Nate in Global Issues class. Middle 2: Azalech and Teagan in Global Issues class. Bottom: Ella and Bing in Global Issues class. 

In 9th-grade Global Issues class, students have been learning about the United Nations (UN) and that international organization’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are seventeen interconnected goals that the UN has determined would serve as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” This week, students met in Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) with their teacher, Isaac, to practice their active communication, listening, and presentation skills during a “Face-Off” exercise. Students spoke with their partners about which SDGs they believed to be the most pressing in today’s world, offering their reasoning behind this belief. Some of the timely SDGs students chose to discuss with their peers included climate action, ending poverty, ending hunger, establishing strong national and global institutions, and ending corruption and establishing just political systems.

Top: Teagan watches a presentation in English class. Middle: Cocona presents her fallacy project from China. Bottom: Julia and Raia with their Title Trekker bookmarks. 

This fall, as travel restrictions have limited the ability to host some of our international students with us on campus, we have had to adapt certain academic and arts courses to accommodate dual-format education. One such class that engages students both in-person and remotely is 9th-grade English, where NCS students in China join in each day via Zoom to collaborate and interact with their on-campus peers.

This past Friday, our 9th-grade English students—including those international students attending remotely—shared what they have learned about cognitive biases and fallacies in presentations given over Zoom to students in the NCS 4th-7th grade cohort. The younger cohort was able to watch presentations and ask questions of their older peers from their own on-campus classrooms, which allowed our students to connect and collaborate while maintaining the space necessary to prioritize health and safety. Using slides, comic strips, scripted conversations, and short original videos, the 9th graders presented their selected cognitive biases, which are thinking errors that are often subconscious, and fallacies, which are logical errors that destabilize an argument. The student-presenters also fielded questions about how those errors can lead to mistakes in reasoning.


Top: Larry talks to students in Design and Build class. Middle 1: Intern Marcos helps Zachary with treehouse construction. Middle 2: Isha and Alejandro work on the treehouse. Middle 3: Colton and Koga cut tree branches by the treehouse. Middle 4: Design and Build students stand on their in-progress treehouse structure.  Middle 5: Courtney talks to her Impact theater class. Bottom: Impact students work on choreography for their original play.

For the past several years, one of the dynamic art electives offered to our older students has been Design and Build class, where students are able to work together to create and construct new additions to the NCS campus. Past Design and Build projects have included the Community Lounge climbing space, the Glass House playground and low ropes course, and the bridge over the stream in Dexter Pasture. This year’s Design and Build students have been hard at work alongside teacher Larry to take down and rebuild the campus treehouse—a longtime favorite play-space for NCS students and Camp Treetops campers that was beginning to show its age. The group has been using entirely reclaimed materials to rebuild the treehouse, starting from the ground up as they work on their new structure. This week we saw quick progress being made on what will surely be a beloved addition to our campus woods.

One of the many performing arts electives offered at North Country School is Impact class—a social-justice focused course where students work together to write an original play on subjects they feel passionately about. This week our Impact students, along with theater teacher Courtney, began to choreograph a scene for this year’s play where they will be using Janelle Monáe’s song “Turntables” to address the Black Lives Matter protests and racial justice issues taking place in the United States today.


Top: Hiking the Mount Van Hoevenberg trails. Middle 1: Students on the Mount Van Hoevenberg summit. Middle 2: Langlang draws on the Mount Van Hoevenberg summit. Middle 3: Dance club meets outside. Bottom: JT bikes during out-time. 

This past weekend saw a group of students hiking to nearby Mount Van Hoevenberg, a beautiful Adirondack summit located across the road from the North Country School campus and surrounded by miles of wooded trails. The group explored the autumn woods around the summit before spending time at the mountain’s rocky landing, relaxing in the sunshine, enjoying the views, and doing some drawing. Students also enjoyed the sunny outdoors during out-times this week, with one group congregating on the outdoor stage for the first meeting of a dance club, and another group skateboarding and biking by the tennis court’s new skate park.


Top: Tess explains Carrot Harvest. Middle1: James and Lucy harvest carrots. Middle 2: Harvesting in the carrot field. Middle 3: Monty picks a carrot. Bottom: A bin of harvested carrots.

Fall at North Country School brings with it the need to harvest many of the vegetables grown on our farm. Over the past few weeks our students have helped harvest and store onions, herbs, potatoes, and sunchokes, and this week our younger cohort of students worked alongside Garden Manager Tess to pick and store the remainder of our farm carrots. Planted from seed in July, the carrots were weeded and cared for throughout the summer by the faculty and staff living on campus, and this past week our students spent a beautiful fall afternoon picking the remainder of the crop. The 800 pounds picked this week were added to the carrots picked last week by a smaller out-time group, bringing the total harvest weight to over 1,000 pounds. The bounty of carrots harvested will be stored in our campus root cellar and used by our kitchen staff to cook up nutritious meals throughout the year.

Top: Erica explains Turkey Harvest to the 9th-grade class. Middle 1: Wyatt carries a rooster. Middle 2: Katie helps Raia pluck a bird. Middle 3: Anatomy labels for the 9th-grade biology lab. Middle 4: Ani and Mia clean a bird. Middle 5: Elyssa helps Leo with a final bird cleaning. Bottom: Azalech weighs a cleaned and bagged turkey. 

The days when we harvest our farm chickens and turkeys are filled with mixed emotions for every member of our community. They are days when we come together with kindness, caring, and patience as we process the many birds that will help feed us throughout the coming year. Though traditionally our bird harvests have been all-school events, this year we restructured our harvests into smaller group sessions in order to prioritize the health and safety of our community.

Each harvest began with barn manager Erica gathering the students and teachers, grouped together by cohort, to discuss how the morning would look. She outlined what everyone could expect to see and experience in the hours ahead, and made sure that students knew that they would be able to choose their level of involvement. Erica explained the various stations, which include plucking, cleaning, bagging, and weighing birds, and reminded students that each station would have several adults there to support and work alongside them. For our 9th graders, the harvest also included a turkey anatomy lesson led by their biology teacher, Colin, who previewed what they would be seeing when they examined each bird.

Many students chose to take birds through every step of the harvest process, while others spent the morning at the stations where they felt most comfortable. Students who decided to opt out of the bird harvest also spent the morning working for the community, moving and stacking the firewood that will be used to heat our buildings throughout the winter.

For many North Country School students and teachers, this was their first time at an animal harvest, and the day brought with it many thoughts and feelings that were shared in conversations that followed. For others, the event has been a part of their lives for many years. For all members of our community, these harvest days are powerful reminders about how we can come together and support one another, and about the importance of taking the time to appreciate the many animals that help sustain us.

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

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .