boy with potatoesPhoto: Edison with newly harvested potatoes.

The place-based lessons and activities that our students participate in encourage them to connect to and consider the world in new ways. This week our campus community came together to harvest potatoes planted last spring. This annual activity allows our students to take an active role in our food system while gaining a greater understanding of how our agricultural crops grow. Students also took part in a science lesson to examine the organisms that live in our campus streams, and another that introduced them to topography and mapmaking using sand from our beach on Round Lake. Through these and other examples of hands-on learning, students can see real-world applications of what they study in the classroom, all while creating lasting memories of their time at NCS and with one another.  

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


science at the beachscience at the lakeTop: Max explains contour lines to the 6th-grade science class. Middle: Mata and Emily construct a 3D topographical map. Bottom: Luke and Wyatt make observations of the campus stream. 

In a lesson that connected the concept of sensory observation to their unit on mapping geographical areas and ecological features, students in 6th-grade science ventured to our campus lake for some tactile learning. Students first constructed 3D landscapes depicting different geographical features using the sand at the beach, before drawing in contour lines to indicate elevation. They will put these skills into practice later in the term when they create a detailed topographical map of the NCS campus. 

The 9th-grade science class also focused on observation in a lesson reinforcing what they’ve been learning about the scientific method. The group spent the morning at our campus stream where they used a physical test (looking at the streambanks and water) as well as a biological test (examining the water for benthic macroinvertebrates) to assess stream health. 

flower poetry in the gardenflower poetry students at an author talkTop: Harry shows Claire his nature erasure poetry. Middle: An erasure poem decorated with flowers from the garden. Bottom: NCS students attend a talk by author Neal Shusterman.

As part of their unit on the Civil War & Reconstruction, our 8th-grade U.S. history class took part in an interdisciplinary lesson that connected what they’ve learned about emancipation to the natural world and their own creative voices.  Each student chose either the Emancipation Proclamation or the poem O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman as a starting point to create erasure poetry—a writing exercise where words or phrases from a published work are blacked out to create a new piece of writing. They then enhanced their creations with flowers and leaves from our garden.

Another group of students also thought about how writing connects to their lives after attending an author talk in nearby Saranac Lake. During the engaging community event Neal Shusterman, author of the popular Scythe series and dozens of other books, spoke to students from around the region about his own experience with writing and about how to find one’s own creative voice.  


learning woodshop woodshop woodshopTop: Larry helps Cynthia with her woodshop project. Middle: Wyatt builds a balance board. Bottom: Ziggy works on a wooden bowl project.

The Arts program at NCS often incorporates natural Adirondack materials into projects. Over in the woodshop, students learn how to make decorative and functional objects using wood from local mills and from our own campus, which is a certified American Tree Farm System. We can’t wait to see the beautiful pieces of pine, spruce, cherry, and maple transform into finished projects over the course of the term.

weaving weaving yarnTop: Mariana weaves on the loom. Middle: Matt sets up his loom. Bottom: Yarn spun from the wool sheared from our campus sheep. 

Students in our fiber arts classes learned about another important campus-sourced material, wool, as they worked on their vibrant weaving projects. Much of the yarn used in the fiber studio is made from wool sheared from our sheep, which students help clean before it is spun and dyed into a usable, and beautiful, end product. Countless tapestries, blankets, and pillows have been created from our campus wool throughout our long history, as well as many of the knit hats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters that keep our students warm throughout winter.


students teach leave no tracestudents practicing Leave No Trace playing soccer soccer teamTop: Matías and Jack lead a Leave No Trace activity. Middle 1: Outdoor Leadership (ODL) students learn the Leave No Trace hand signals. Middle 2: The NCS soccer team plays their first game. Bottom: The NCS soccer team.

Each term the students in our older grades have the opportunity to sign up for Outdoor Leadership (ODL) class, where they learn skills and concepts that prepare them to not only hike, camp, and play in the backcountry, but also to act as thoughtful and responsible leaders in the wilderness. This week one of our ODL classes learned about the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor recreation, as well as the helpful hand signs that represent each of the seven principles, while the other class led a Town Meeting activity introducing these concepts to the entire school community.

Our school soccer team also had the opportunity to step up as leaders during their first game of the season against the Adirondack Homeschool Education Foundation (AHEF). After a close game the NCS Pink Pigs took home the victory, and we are so proud of the cooperation, sportsmanship, and team spirit our student athletes brought to the field.

students on a mountainstudents hikingstudent hikingTop: The Algonquin/Wright hiking group on the summit of Algonquin Mountain. Middle: The Algonquin/Wright group hikes. Bottom: Matt celebrates completing the NCS 10. 

This past weekend a group of students participated in the first overnight camping trip of the year and celebrated one of our students reaching an important NCS milestone along the way. The group hiked up nearby Algonquin Mountain and Wright Peak, two of the 46 mountains in the Adirondack Park that are taller than 4,000 feet, where 9th-grader Matt celebrated completing the NCS-10 Challenge. The challenge involves hiking all ten of the high points visible from the North Country School campus, and includes other 46ers like Cascade and Phelps mountains in addition to shorter peaks like Pitchoff Mountain and Mt. Van Hoevenberg. Congratulations to Matt for achieving this impressive goal!


a group in the fieldpicking potatoespicking potatoesweighing potatologging potato weight Top: The farmers talk to the community before Potato Harvest. Middle 1: Emma and Kate harvest potatoes. Middle 2: Chase harvests potatoes. Middle 3: John, Higgs, and Scott weigh potatoes. Bottom: Val records the weight of harvested potatoes. 

Many hands make light work, and this is never more evident than during all-community farm activities. Throughout the year our community joins together to take part in different aspects of the harvest season, and this past week we participated in one of our favorite fall traditions—Potato Harvest. Last May we gathered in Dexter Pasture to plant the potato crop, which grew into plants that were tended to over the summer by Camp Treetops campers. After the potatoes spent months growing underground our students, faculty, and staff harvested more than 760 pounds of the mature tubers in a little over an hour! We are excited to eat the delicious potatoes in meals cooked up in our Dining Room, Teaching and Learning Kitchen, and residential houses throughout the year.