NCS Blog

Photo: Ani reads her poem in the Children’s Garden as part of our academic showcases. 

At North Country School, we know that connecting to our greater community is an invaluable part of the educational experience. Bringing in guest experts and introducing students to those with varied backgrounds expands knowledge and fosters empathy, while inviting families to participate in special events and long-held traditions allows us to include all of you in the NCS campus experience. This past year has presented new obstacles in cultivating those connections, but our students, faculty, staff, and families have responded with characteristic creativity and flexibility as we carve out new pathways.

This week we welcomed guest experts to campus using remote technology and by utilizing our outdoor spaces, and by recording presentations that in previous years would have been attended live by families. In the upcoming week, as we end the fall term with adapted versions of beloved traditions including the Thanksgiving harvest meal and appreciation Town Meeting, we will include you all by sending out recordings of academic and art showcases. We hope you will join us in celebrating students as they recite original poetry, act in student-led theater productions, and put the finishing touches on our new campus Treehouse. Though there may be more distance between us, the North Country School experience would truly not be the same without your ongoing involvement, encouragement, and support.

Note: In order to include next week’s Thanksgiving meal and other fall term special events, the next #ThisWeekAtNCS blog post will be up on Monday, November 23.

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ACADEMICS

Top: Dave films Brian at the 7th-grade poetry reading. Middle 1: James reads his poem, “Winter.” Middle 2: Samantha gives feedback on a poem. Bottom: Ani reads her poem, “Home.”

The warm weather and sunny skies brought our academic classes back outside this week, and we enjoyed watching our students learn and support one another against our beautiful campus backdrop. In 7th-grade English class, students culminated their poetry unit with a group reading in the Children’s Garden. Each student shared one of their favorite original works from the fall term, before receiving critique from their peers. The group was a fantastic audience, cheering one another on and offering thoughtful and encouraging feedback after each reading. The filmed event will be included as part of the virtual student showcases we are sending to families next week.

Top: Garth explains the box math challenge. Middle 1: Tyler, Josie, and Abigail work on their math challenge. Middle 2: Dr. Easley talks to the NCS community via Zoom.  Middle 3: Older cohort students watch Dr. Easley’s presentation. Bottom: Sophie asks Dr. Easley a question. 

This week our 8th grade mathematicians gathered outside in the sunshine to tackle a creative challenge involving volume. Garth began the class by explaining the task—to build a box out of construction paper that would maximize the container’s volume. The class then split into two groups that were both given identical pieces of paper, scissors, and rulers, before they set to work making predictions using the formula for volume: length times width times height. After trying different dimensions for their boxes, both groups realized that using established algebraic solutions is a much more effective and time-saving strategy than using the guess-and-check method to solve real-world problems.

This week we welcomed back special guest Dr. Thomas Easley to North Country School for the third time, though this year’s visit—organized by our Equity and Inclusion Committee—was hosted via Zoom. Dr. Easley is a hip hop musician and serves as the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Our younger students gathered in the dining room for the special program, while our older students participated from the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) theater. Dr. Easley shared his background as a hip hop artist, performing several pieces for the students, before talking about diversity work and examining the concept of leadership. Students then asked questions about Dr. Easley’s interest in science and forestry, and about how and where he has found inspiration for his music and writing. After an engaging session with our students, Dr. Easley presented a second session to our faculty and staff. Though we would have loved to welcome Dr. Easley in person and hope to again in the future, we continue to be grateful for the many ways we can connect with members of our extended community while prioritizing the health and safety of our students.

ARTS

Top: The Impact! performance dress rehearsal. Middle: The Impact cast practices their staging. Bottom: Stage Manager Ella watched the Impact class rehearse. 

Impact theater class will be performing their original play to the larger school community next Monday and Tuesday, and this week they worked hard to perfect their choreography and staging during several dress rehearsals. The play, which addresses current events and issues of social and racial justice, will be filmed and sent to families as part of our virtual student showcases next week.

Top: Teagan practices violin outside. Middle: Wyatt plays guitar during a music lesson. Bottom: Alex practices piano. 

Independent study music students could be found all around campus this past week, practicing their skills outside while enjoying the warm weather and taking advantage of our WallyPAC indoor studio spaces. Our talented musicians have been working on their foundational skills in instruments like violin, viola, guitar, and piano, as well as perfecting the performance pieces that they have been learning throughout the fall term.

OUTDOORS

Top: Arden and Daven climb at the Crag. Middle: Alejandro climbs at the crag. Bottom: Students learn Leave No Trace outdoor ethics principles. 

This past week brought with it a surprising switch from last week’s cold and snow, and our community took full advantage of the sunny spring-like days by engaging in some of our favorite warmer-weather activities. Students spent time at the climbing crag during several out-times, switching off between belaying one another and climbing some of the challenging routes that make up this favorite campus spot.

Weekend trips also maximized their time outdoors, with one group welcoming returning guest Tyler from the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). The ADK is one of several local nonprofit organizations dedicated to land conservation, ethical recreation, and outdoor education within the Adirondack Park. Students in our Outdoor Leadership Program were joined by their peers to participate in a Leave No Trace workshop this past Saturday, where they learned about the seven core Leave No Trace principles. These principles offer useful strategies for recreating in nature while minimizing human impacts, and include respecting wildlife, walking on durable surfaces, and disposing of waste properly.

Top: Algonquin House students at the Hurricane Mountain summit. Middle: James at the top of the Hurricane Mountain fire tower. Bottom: Algonquin House students explore the Hurricane Mountain landing. 

The students of Algonquin House spent this past Saturday hiking nearby Hurricane Mountain as a group, pushing through some muddy spots on the trail to reach the open summit. The clear day offered the group uninterrupted vistas of the Adirondack Park, and everyone took advantage of the perfect conditions by climbing to the top of the fire tower for the best view of the peaks, lakes, and forests around them.

FARM AND GARDEN



Top: Sunset in the barnyard. Middle 1: Students circle up before barn chores. Middle 2: Horses in the barnyard pasture. Middle 3: Elyssa explains chicken chores to students. Middle 4: Anika collects eggs. Middle 5: Eggs in the egg basket. Bottom: James refills the chicken water.

For students at North Country School, many days end by gathering down at the barnyard to feed and care for our farm animals before heading off to dinner. Throughout this past week, evening barn chores have coincided with sunset, providing a beautiful backdrop for leading horses, unloading hay, and refilling water buckets in animal stalls. Over in the chicken coop, Intern Elyssa helped students herd chickens inside for the night before everyone split up the task of caring for our birds. Anika collected the day’s eggs, which will be washed and used in our dining room, while River, Ira, and James refilled grain troughs and water containers. There was still a bit of light left in the sky for the walk back to the Main Building, but—as alumni and returning students remember well—as we close in on the winter months, headlamps and flashlights will become a standard part of the evening chore experience.