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Photo: The cast of the Impact show takes their bows.

At North Country School we end the Fall Term with much-loved traditions that celebrate our values of community, connection, appreciation, and joy. Autumn is a time when we harvest food from our farm and gardens, explore exciting areas of interest, and form relationships with new friends. This week, we enjoyed events that highlighted these special aspects of the season.

On Wednesday everyone gathered in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to watch our students perform the songs, dances, scenes, and original play they’ve been refining throughout the term. The young performers were thrilled to be in front of a live audience and to have our extended community watch the show via a live stream. During our annual Appreciation Town Meeting we gathered together to recognize one another, and were moved by the many heartfelt messages of friendship and gratitude we heard. Students used this opportunity to recognize teachers, each other, and our school, for the many positive ways they’ve shaped their NCS experience thus far. We ended the week with a delicious Thanksgiving meal, which featured a bounty of foods—from potatoes to turkeys—grown and raised on campus, as well as a selection of desserts highlighting locally sourced ingredients. It was an event that reminded us of all we have to be grateful for, and it was a wonderful way to close out the Fall Term and see students off for their week-long break.

We hope you all enjoy your own safe and joyful Thanksgiving celebrations. We look forward to returning with updates from our mountain campus at the start of our Winter Term in December.

*Note: While students return to the NCS campus on Sunday, November 28, look for the next #ThisWeekAtNCS blog update on Friday, December 10. 

ACADEMICS

Top: Langlang and Erica are honored as Literary 46ers. Middle: The 5th-grade social studies class acts out myths for Reader’s Theater. Bottom: The 6th-grade science class presents their ecological data maps. 

The culmination of our Fall Term brought with it final projects and presentations, along with special recognition for those who completed some of the many fun challenges we offer. On Monday we honored two new members of the Literary 46ers—NCS students or adults who have read and written about forty-six different books. 8th-grader Langlang and Barn Manager Erica both finished their forty-sixth “Title Trek” essay recently, and were celebrated during lunch council. Their names will be added to the Literary 46er plaque, and they were gifted with new backpacks full of books. Congratulations, Langlang and Erica, for accomplishing this lofty goal!

Our 5th-grade social studies students finished up this term’s lesson on Ancient Greece by acting out Greek myths during the class’s Reader’s Theater. The fun cross-curricular lesson asked the groups of students to use the note-taking skills they have been learning in science class to review detailed notes they made about Greek myths earlier in the week. The groups then used those notes to act out mythical scenes to their classmates. Meanwhile, our 6th-grade science class wrapped up their unit on Geographic Information Systems (mapmaking software that can display data sets on a map) with each student creating their own maps. Each map used a different attribute of ecological data, such as numbers of animal or plant species across different regions. For the last class of the term each student presented their map to their peers during a gallery viewing and critique.

Top: The 9th-grade English Authors and Justice Conference. Middle: A book from the Authors and Justice Conference. Bottom: Olivia speaks as Todd Strasser at the Authors and Justice Conference. 

Our 9th-grade English class also saw their weeks of reading, discussion, and research come to fruition with their annual Authors and Justice Conference. During the conference each student acted as a specific published author and answered their peers’ questions on the justice and equity issues they wrote about in their books. We loved seeing our students speak both knowledgeably and passionately about social justice from the perspective of authors including Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Marjane Satrapi, and Octavia Butler. 

ARTS

Top: A dance performance during Student Showcases. Middle: A 7th-grade band performance during Student Showcases. Bottom: Colton works on lighting for Student Showcases. 

This year’s Student Showcases were a great success, and featured a wide variety of acts from our creative student body. The event was held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for different groups of community members, and featured energetic dance numbers, rousing rock band performances, and emotional theatrical scenes. Students on stage crew provided skillful help from behind the scenes, while 9th-grader Colton and 7th-grader Joel ran the technical elements of the production from the lighting and sound booth. We are continuously impressed by the many ways our students use art to express themselves, and Student Showcases are the perfect platform to bring that creativity, passion, and joy to the greater community. 

Top: The Impact theater class in a scene from their original play. Middle 1: Camila in a scene from the Impact play. Middle 2: Grace and Eric in a scene from the Impact play. Bottom: The cast and crew of the Impact play take their bows and clap for the sound and lighting booth. 

Students in Impact theater class finished up the Fall Term by performing the original play they’ve been writing, staging, and rehearsing over the past few months. The play, which centered around a group of young people rebuilding their war-torn community, included original musical numbers and artistic set pieces using reclaimed materials. It was a powerful experience for everyone in attendance, and we were glad to be able to offer a live-stream viewing option to anyone unable to visit campus in person. Congratulations to our theater and theater-tech students, who not only created the show but also took the helm of every aspect of production.

OUTDOORS

Top: A hiking group on Cascade Mountain. Middle 1: Heqing approaches the Cascade Mountain summit. Middle 2: Students play in the snow during out-time. Bottom: Students in the Outdoor Leadership Program with their CPR certificates. 

Scatterings of snow made this last week of Fall Term a festive one, both during our on-campus adventures and while out exploring the Adirondack Park. A Saturday trip up Cascade Mountain, the four-thousand foot peak that towers above our campus, brought our excited students into the clouds, where they enjoyed the flurries despite the lack of a view. Students spent afternoon out-times taking advantage of the fresh powder to make snowballs and snow angels. While we’ve only had a bit of snow stick so far this year, we anticipate arriving back to a winter wonderland when we return from our Thanksgiving break week. 

Meanwhile, the students in our Outdoor Leadership Program accomplished an impressive end-of-term milestone this past week, as they completed CPR training as part of their skill-building curriculum . Each student in the class was certified in this life-saving technique. We are so proud of this rugged and resourceful group of students for putting the time and effort into this worthy pursuit.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Cascade House meets in the barnyard for afternoon chores. Middle 1: Emma helps Grace lead Fern the horse. Middle 2: Ryan makes a “thank you” card for the kitchen staff. Bottom: “Thank you” cards for the farmers and kitchen staff.

Each week a different residential house is on both morning and afternoon barn chores, and this week it was Cascade House’s turn to care for our barnyard creatures after out-time each day. As we end the Fall Term and move into cold winter nights, this means it is near dark by the time afternoon chores begin. Our students circled-up in the fading light of the barnyard to assign their different jobs, before splitting up with the farmers to put the barn to bed for the night. Students collected eggs, gave out grain, hay, and water, and led our horses to their stalls for their daily grooming, before heading off to their own dinners. We appreciate the meaningful, authentic work our campus students and adults put in to help care for our farm and gardens. 

Our students expressed their own appreciation in many ways this week, and one of those ways was by writing “thank you” notes to our farm and kitchen staffs. The beautiful, poignant, and often funny hand drawn notes of gratitude were given out to staff before students left campus for break. 

Top: The farm and kitchen staffs with the Thanksgiving spread. Middle 1: Executive Director Todd Ormiston talks before the Thanksgiving meal. Middle 2: Todd carves the turkey with help from 9th-graders Abigail, Josie, and Tyler. Middle 3: Adults serve at Thanksgiving. Middle 4: Duncan and Matt eat their Thanksgiving meal. Bottom: Wyatt wins a turkey leg for the second year in a row. 

At North Country School, our annual Thanksgiving meal brings the community together for a festive farm feast where we celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest. While we have had to restructure this event in recent years, the meal is still a time when we gather in gratitude for the food that sustains us, for the many hands that have made that food possible, and for the wonderful people that surround us each day. 

This year’s harvest meal included a bounty of NCS grown-and-raised ingredients, including turkey, sausage, squash, Brussel’s sprouts, potatoes, and apples. Each year we also honor the student or students who have attended NCS the longest by having those students present the largest turkey to the community. The most tenured 9th graders carried the honorary Thanksgiving bird, which weighed nearly fifty pounds, to Executive Director Todd Ormiston for carving. We also participated in our newer tradition of raffling off giant turkey legs to excited diners. The meal was a joyous occasion, and the perfect way to end a great Fall Term. 

APPRECIATION TOWN MEETING

Top: Director of School Matt Smith explains the Town Meeting. Middle 1: Amon writes on the appreciation board. Middle 2: Brynn offers an appreciation. Middle 3: Jeff offers an appreciation. Middle 4: The appreciation board. Bottom: The 9th-grade appreciation scribes. 

Each year at North Country School we end the Fall Term with an Appreciation Town Meeting—a time set aside to celebrate and recognize one another before heading off campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. This past Thursday afternoon we gathered together in the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) to give students and adults the opportunity to express gratitude for different individuals in their lives here at NCS. Listening to our community members thank one another is always a moving experience, and this year was no different. Taking the time to offer gratitude to those around us serves as an important reminder of the power of giving and receiving thanks, and is a beautiful reminder of what makes our community, and this place we call home, so special.