Photo: Ira and Julia in 4th-grade music class.

At North Country School, we believe that providing students with art every day is about more than skill-building. Creating art—whether it be visual art like photography or painting, industrial art like woodshop or metal sculpture, or performing art like music or theater—allows children to explore different avenues of self expression, fosters patience and empathy, and asks us to consider the perspectives of others. Art not only encourages collaboration and curiosity, it builds community and compassion. During the first few weeks of fall term, we have been delighted to watch our students learn, grow, and just have fun while playing music and acting together, rebuilding the NCS treehouse, painting landscapes of mountain vistas, and building gifts for family members and the campus community in the woodshop. We can’t wait to see all the ways that our talented students continue to create art together as the year goes on.


Top: Isaac helps Justin with his poem. Middle: Samantha reads a poem. Bottom: James works on his poetry. 

In Isaac’s 7th grade English class, students have been learning about the various styles and techniques employed in poetic writing. This past week, the group met in the Children’s Garden to read and discuss William Blake’s “The Tyger,“ which uses questions posed toward the titular animal to explore the concept of creation, identity, and life. Each student then worked on their own question-based poems, taking inspiration from the surrounding mountains and gardens as they explored their perspective on the natural world.

Top: Azalech and Eden work on their lab sheet. Middle 1: Arden and Alex check their net. Middle 2: Nate and Steven check their net. Bottom: Colin helps Teagan and Eliza with their lab. 

This week our 9th grade scientists spent time on our trails, employing what they’ve been learning about the scientific method to assess the health of the stream that runs through campus. The group examined the stream both in the woods above our campus buildings as well as closer to the barn, below main campus. The group then collected benthic macroinvertebrates—creatures that spend part of their lives underwater, have no backbones, and are very sensitive to water quality—and used stream health assessment sheets to log their data. Though the class assessed that more collection data would be needed to come to a stronger conclusion, their primary observations showed that there may be a slight difference in water quality between the two campus collection sites.


Top: Joey teaches 4th-grade music class. Middle 1: Tiago plays the ukulele. Middle 2: Brynn plays the ukulele. Middle 3: Summer rolls out clay. Middle 4: Nate hand builds with clay.  Bottom: Arden sands an academic Adirondack chair. 

This week, as we settle into the rituals and routines of fall term, we have loved watching our students flourish in their various artistic endeavors. Our 4th-grade students have spent the past few weeks practicing ukulele chords and strumming patterns under the guidance of music teacher Joey, and this week they began learning their first songs, playing together against a backdrop of brilliant fall colors. Our older students have been able to delve deeper into their favorite artistic pursuits, as well as take on new challenges in previously unexplored areas. 9th-graders Nate and Summer spent time in the ceramics studio working on their creative handbuilding skills, while Arden worked alongside her classmates in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to build more academic Adirondack chairs for our outdoor classroom spaces.


Top: Raia reads on Trouble. Middle 1: Alea, Raia, and Brynn explore the Trouble caves. Middle 2: Grace, Isha, Abigail, and Josie do yoga on the Upper Field.  Middle 3: Ira studies a frog. Middle 4: Hiking the trail to Balanced Rocks. Bottom: The view from a cave on Balanced Rocks. 

Peak autumn color reached our campus this week, and our students and faculty made sure to appreciate every moment while out exploring our campus and some nearby trails. During this week’s out-times—which take place each afternoon after academic and arts classes and provide our students with active time in the outdoors—students hiked around the caves and viewpoints near Trouble landing, practiced their yoga skills on the Upper Field, and visited the frog pond to examine some native plant and animal species. This past weekend also saw our students out on adventures both on- and off-campus, with one group of our younger students visiting nearby Balanced Rocks on what turned out to be the most vibrant autumn day of the year across our mountain valley. The group took the trail up to the spectacular viewpoint, exploring the landing and some of the caves at the top, before heading off-trail and bushwacking their way back to campus under the guidance of teachers Elie and Max.

A photo of this hike, taken by photographer Nancie Battaglia, was featured on the North Country Public Radio website this week. Click here to view.


Top: Farm scavenger hunt items. Middle 1: 7th graders on the garden pasture fence. Middle 2: Mia with a squash. Middle 3: Ira and Ani help clean onions. Bottom: Taking out the flower garden. 

At North Country School, our diversified farm spans a large portion of our 220-acre campus, from our barns and animal pastures, to our garden beds and greenhouses, to our permaculture growing spaces and orchards, to our maple sugarbush. This past week, our 4th- through 7th-grade Edible Schoolyard students all spent time exploring these various farm spaces during afternoon scavenger hunts. Students met up by the garden pasture fence to talk about how and why we farm, before breaking into groups to work together to collect specific items from all around campus. After gathering a bounty of items, including eggs from the chicken coop, sap buckets from the sugarhouse, potatoes from the root cellar, sunflower heads from the field, and winter squash from the greenhouse, the students met back by our Teaching and Learning Kitchen to show off all they’d discovered.

Students also worked alongside adults this week to continue to help put our farm to bed for the winter. Farm intern Hania guided some of our younger students through trimming and sorting onions for storage, while 9th-grade teacher Meredith worked with our older students to pull out frost-damaged plants from our annual flower beds, making sure to have some fun while helping the community with this important project.


Top: Paulette with farm produce. Middle 1: The school celebrates Paulette. Middle 2: Student-made sign for Paulette. Bottom: Student-made sign for Paulette.

This past Monday our community joined together to celebrate the career of our Head of Kitchen, Paulette, who is retiring after 26 years with us. Students and adults lined the road out of campus to send Paulette with cheers and signs against the gorgeous autumn backdrop of Balanced Rocks and Cascade Mountain. Paulette has spent her time at North Country School and Camp Treetops not only feeding generations of students, faculty, staff, counselors, and campers nutritious meals prepared with care, but being a constant example of positivity and kindness. We will greatly miss Paulette’s smiling face, her joyous laugh, and her caring words, and are thrilled to continue to call her both a neighbor and a member of the extended NCS/CTT family as she enjoys her well-earned retirement.

Join us in welcoming current NCS/CTT kitchen staff member Jessica Porter into her new role as Head of Kitchen. We know Jess will do a wonderful job following in Paulette’s footsteps.

Thank you, Paulette, and congratulations!

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 .