Photo: Students participate in a magical battle during WARP.

At North Country School, we believe that play is a crucial aspect of childhood, one that adds excitement and wonder to our students’ day-to-day lives. Sometimes, play takes the form of students using the wooden slides in our buildings to swoop down to their next class. Other times, play happens during an outdoor English lesson during which a class acts out a silly scene from a book. But on one special—and highly anticipated—weekend each fall, the concept of play takes center stage during an all-day, all-school fantasy role-play event called WARP.

WARP, which stands for Wilderness Action Role Play, is a day filled with magical quests, when teamwork can mean the difference between discovering the clues needed to solve riddles, and losing epic battles with monsters and sorcerers. This past Sunday our students and teachers donned fantastical costumes and explored our campus woods as they participated in this beloved NCS tradition, using their imaginations while working together in an event that reminds us that often the most memorable moments in life are also the most playful.


Top: The 8th-grade environmental science class discusses their activity. Middle: Campbell explains the math involved in “How Many Bears?” Bottom: The 8th-grade environmental science class plays “How Many Bears?”

To continue their unit studying the biosphere—the region on, below, and above the earth’s surface where life exists—our 8th-grade scientists have spent the past few weeks discussing the relationships that exist between organisms, and how different populations meet their various needs. This past week the class gathered in the Quonset for a dynamic and fun activity called How Many Bears?, which applied the concepts of population growth and carrying capacity to an animal commonly found in our Adirondack home. Each student pretended to be a black bear that needed to collect enough food to survive, scrambling across the room to collect pieces of paper with food weights written on them. Black bears need an average of 80 pounds of food for every 10-day period, but the environment in the game only supplies enough food to support six bears comfortably. By calculating the amount each “bear” is able to collect, the activity demonstrates what happens when the carrying capacity of a region is exceeded. The class then discussed how human population growth has been affecting other parts of the biosphere, and discussed ways individuals and groups can mitigate their own impact on the larger environment.

Top: The 9th-grade Global Issues class discusses current events articles. Middle 1: Joseph discusses his current events articles. Middle 2: Isaac outlines discussion norms during Global Issues class. Bottom: A sign on the wall in the 9th-grade English and Global Issues classroom.

Meanwhile, our 9th-grade Global Issues students also had thoughtful discussions about how populations work together and affect one another during their current events discussion. The weekly activity asks students to analyze and think critically about different events and phenomena happening around the world based on articles of their choosing, and to make connections between separate events and histories. This week students discussed the concept of “fragile democracies” while thinking about the challenges specific nations face when maintaining democracy, as well as the limits certain nations and leaders have placed on democratic systems around the world. Throughout the discussion, the class was able to think critically about these issues, and students engaged in collaborative conversations with nuance, patience, and respect for both the content and one another.


Top: Sierra talks to Val about his darkroom print in photography class. Middle: Laurie develops a print in the darkroom. Bottom: Liam looks at a test print in the darkroom.

It was an exciting week for our 7th-grade photography students, who were able to use one of our favorite campus resources, the darkroom. After learning the fundamentals of using film cameras for the past several weeks, the students spent their class time developing their first rolls of film of the term. Each student made test strips using different exposure times before printing out full-sized versions of their work. We are excited to see their portfolios continue to come together throughout the rest of the Fall Term.

Top: Courtney talks to the theater class about blocking. Middle 1: Rosalie and River take notes on blocking a scene. Middle 2: Katie talks Owen through rolling ink on his rubber print. Middle 3: Owen presses his print to paper. Bottom: A final print with three ink colors. 

Meanwhile, we are starting to see significant headway made on ongoing projects in our performing art and studio art programs. This week the cast of the Fall Term production, She Kills Monsters, worked out the blocking for their scenes under the guidance of theater teacher Courtney. As we move closer to the end-of-term final performances, we will begin to see full cast dress rehearsals of this fantasy role-play centered story.

Students working on printmaking have similarly seen their hard work coming together, as they used their completed hand-cut rubber stamps to make vibrant note cards and stationery. Each student chose a specific color palate and layering technique, before rolling different inks onto their stamps and carefully pressing them to paper. The nature-inspired work will become beautiful notes of thanks and appreciation that will be given out and displayed during our annual Family Weekend and Thanksgiving celebration.


Top: A weekend trip group at a lookout on Blueberry Cobbles. Middle 1: Riiley with her portrait drawing on Blueberry Cobbles. Middle 2: Josh holds up his life-sized face drawing on Blueberry Cobbles. Bottom: Adela, Katie, and Josh take in the view on Blueberry Cobbles.

While most of the foliage has fallen from the trees on our high-elevation campus, fall is still putting on its technicolor show elsewhere in the surrounding, slightly warmer Adirondack region. One weekend trip chased this quickly changing season during a hike up to the Blueberry Cobbles vista, just thirty minutes from the NCS campus. The group took in the spectacular sights from the wide-open lookout, played a few games, and drew creative portraits using the art supplies they brought along for the hike.

Top: Elyssa “The Oracle” gives out clues to a WARP group. Middle 1: Liz completes a magical challenge for her WARP group. Middle 2: “The Vagabonds” pose during WARP. Middle 3: A WARP group uses magical pieces to rebuild the summoning circle. Middle 4: William holds up a magical puzzle piece. Middle 5: A battle between good and evil during WARP. Bottom: Cody in his WARP costume.

While games and creativity were woven into our activities during this past weekend’s Saturday programming, they played a starring role Sunday during North Country School’s annual WARP, or Wilderness Action Role Play, event. WARP brings our larger community together for what is unquestionably the most fantastical day of the school year. This year’s WARP followed in the long tradition of WARP days that came before it, engaging everyone from our youngest faculty children to our most seasoned faculty and staff in an ongoing storyline about a mythic quest. Our students spent the day banding together to participate in epic battles, solve complex riddles, and meet magical creatures of all sorts. The day was an unforgettable one, and was an excellent reminder that, no matter our ages, there is joy and wonder to be found when we take the time to play.


Top: Garden Manager Kim helps the Edible Schoolyard elective class harvest ginger from the greenhouse. Middle 1: Edible Schoolyard elective students harvest leeks for homemade potstickers. Middle 2: Roan grates a carrot for potstickers. Middle 3: Marley cuts dough for potstickers. Middle 4: Melissa folds a potsticker. Bottom: The Edible Schoolyard class tastes their potstickers.

Our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) elective students took advantage of the bounty of seasonal produce coming out of our fields, as well as our access to farm-raised meat, during a hands-on lesson this week. The group first met in the greenhouses and gardens to harvest ginger, leeks, carrots, and cabbage before heading to the Teaching and Learning Kitchen to prepare one of our favorite savory treats: potstickers, or steam-fried dumplings. After learning a bit about the history of dumplings, the class made fresh dough, vegetable filling, and pork filling made with pork from our NCS farm. They then cut and assembled the potstickers, before briefly frying them and then immediately steaming them until fully cooked. This two-step cooking process gives each potsticker a crispy brown bottom layer while the sides and top remain soft. The class then taste-tested each type of potsticker themselves, before sharing their finished product with our farmers.

Top: An aerial photo of leek harvest. Middle 1: Anika and Josh harvest carrots. Middle 2: Oliver harvests carrots. Middle 3: Monty helps Kim wash carrots. Bottom: A full bin of carrots.

We gathered together by the greenhouses and gardens this week to participate in our final all-community vegetable harvest of the season—picking the fall crop of carrots, the final rows of leeks, and the remainder of the greenhouse kale. As is so often the case when we all work together on a task, the afternoon flew by, and in a bit more than an hour we were able to pick 229 pounds of carrots, 235 pounds of leeks, and 17 pounds of kale (an impressive amount, as kale is one of the lightest crops we grow on the farm). As we wind down our harvest season for the year and put most of our garden beds to sleep, we are so proud of how our community has worked together while providing food for our kitchens and dining rooms. We are looking forward to enjoying all the delicious meals made from these crops when our fields are covered in snow throughout the winter months.

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

For general school information, call 518-523-9329.