children in a science lessonPhoto: Laurie and Mariana dissect an owl pellet in environmental science class. 

Experiential education recognizes that everyone learns differently, and that inviting students to actively participate in their education not only captures and keeps their attention but also kindles excitement and curiosity. This week our students dissected owl pellets in a hands-on science lab to better understand local ecosystems and learned about Ancient Greece by taking part in a creative scavenger hunt. These are just two examples of our hands-on educational philosophy in action. We love hearing our young scholars enthusiastically explain what they’ve learned in class to their friends and family, and to see the engagement on their faces as they participate in these dynamic lessons each day.

*Note: To see additional photos from the week, scroll to the bottom this page and click the “Weekly Photos” button.


a small bonedissecting an owl pelleta student group in a history lessona student group in a history lessonTop: Kelly shows Oliver and Owen how to dissect an owl pellet. Middle 1: Mina dissects an owl pellet. Middle 2: Tiny bones from an owl pellet. Middle 3: The 5th-grade history class participates in a scavenger hunt. Bottom: The 5th-grade history class with Zeus’s lightning bolt. 

As part of their Fall Term unit on ecosystems and ecology in the Adirondack Park, our 8th-grade environmental science students examined barn owl pellets, the indigestible parts of prey that owls regurgitate after eating. After studying the bones and feathers they discovered inside the pellets, the class constructed models of the owls’ food webs, which show the connecting chains of food within a single ecosystem.   

Meanwhile, our 5th-grade social studies students have been busy studying Ancient Greece. This week the group focused on Ancient Greek belief systems by discussing the role and importance of storytelling and mythology. The students were introduced to the Twelve Olympians of Mount Olympus in the form of a fun campus-wide scavenger hunt, during which students solved mythology-related riddles in order to locate and return Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt. 


theater classtheater studentsplaying guitar and drumsplaying trumpetneedlefeltingTop: Courtney talks to her theater class. Middle 1: River, Mary, and Ian rehearse a scene. Middle 2: Orrin plays the guitar and the drums in a practice room. Middle 3: Rafa plays the trumpet. Bottom: Needlefelted projects on display.

One of the newest buildings on the NCS campus is the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC), and it is in this beautiful space that our performing arts, music, and Design and Build classes take place. This week our talented performers rehearsed scenes for the upcoming The One-Act Play that Goes Wrong show, which promises to be a hilarious and crowd-pleasing production. Meanwhile our musicians practiced their instrumental skills in our various studio spaces, working independently and with one another to learn new songs that they will perform toward the end of the term. 

The WallyPAC also features a gallery where our studio art students have their creative projects displayed on a rotating schedule throughout the year. The Fall Term collection features a vibrant rainbow of art made from different mediums including glass, ceramics, paint, and even wool from our sheep that has been dyed and needlefelted into whimsical shapes. 


fog in a fieldstudents on a lean to student in leavesTop: The view across the Garden Pasture on a misty autumn morning. Middle: Students on a lean-to roof at Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC).  Bottom: Ava in a pile of leaves. 

It was a perfect autumn week on our mountain campus and in our greater Adirondack region, with green leaves turning to vibrant colors on the surrounding maple, birch, and aspen trees, and the mild temperatures making our favorite outdoor activities even more enjoyable. Students enjoyed the warm autumn conditions during afternoon out-times, while heading to the barn for morning chores, and on weekend trips that brought them to some of the beautiful wooded spots and towering vistas that make our region a popular place for outdoor adventure. 

hiking grouphiking grouphiking feet at a trail markerTop: The Range-in-a-Day hikers on Panther Mountain. Middle: Alina and Cynthia on Ampersand Mountain. Bottom: Students’ feet by the Ampersand Mountain summit marker. 

Two of our weekend trip groups took on two such outdoor adventures this past Saturday, with one group of our most experienced hikers participating in the traditional “Range-in-a-Day Hike,” during which students take part in a full day of challenging hiking. This fall’s “Range-in-a-Day” group covered more than 16 miles of ground and over 5,000 feet of elevation gain as they hiked Panther, Santanoni, and Couchsachraga peaks, all of which are included in the list of the 46 Adirondack mountains that measure more than 4,000 feet tall!

Another group hiked up Ampersand Mountain, a beautiful 3,300-foot peak, and took in the views of the surrounding lakes and mountainscape while celebrating on the sunny summit. Congratulations to our many avid hikers for a great weekend on the trails.


children making pie crustchild with a pie recipea child cutting buttera child holding a baking trayTop: Lilly, Evalyn, and Leo make pie crust. Middle 1: Tahj with a pie crust recipe. Middle 2: Higgs cuts butter. Bottom: Evalyn holds a tray of roasted winter squash. 

As part of our Edible School (ESY) Program, classes learn how to prepare foods from scratch using locally sourced and NCS-grown ingredients, and are then able to taste and share the delicious results of their efforts. This week our 4th- and 5th-grade ESY students had a great time in our Teaching and Learning Kitchen (TLK) roasting pumpkin and winter squash, and whipping up pie crust for the homemade pies they will finish baking in class next week. As we say in Edible Schoolyard, “Thank you farmers, thank you cooks!”

Top: Mountain House at afternoon barn chores. Middle: Emma and Kate bring out hay for the horses. Bottom: Rafa in the chicken enclosure. 

As part of the NCS chore rotation, residential houses and the day students in those houses spend two weeks at a time participating in either morning or afternoon barn chores. During the current rotation, the Mountain House crew has been hard at work taking part in afternoon chores in the barnyard, bringing hay to our herd of horses, feeding and watering our sheep and goats, and collecting eggs from our chickens. By helping to care for the creatures that share our home, students learn empathy, compassion, patience, and responsibility, all while forming relationships with these animals and one another.