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This week North Country School celebrated the end of the fall term with occasions of giving thanks and festive community gatherings. On Tuesday evening, our Edible Schoolyard students cooked the first Thanksgiving meal of the season for their peers, using ingredients from our farm and the surrounding region. Wednesday morning’s annual Thanksgiving Town Meeting gave the students and teachers the opportunity to express gratitude to others directly. In the latter half of the week we welcomed our extended community to the NCS campus for our annual Family Weekend and Thanksgiving meal. Families toured the NCS campus, attending short academic classes, viewed their children’s displayed artwork, and attended student performances before joining together for a bountiful farm-to-table meal featuring our own turkeys as the culinary centerpiece.

After a week-long holiday break, our students will return to our snow-covered campus for a winter term filled with cross-country skiing, Whiteface Mountain ski days, and new lessons in their arts and academic classes.

ACADEMICS

Our 9th grade English class ended fall term with a group “Authors’ Conference,” focusing on themes of justice, discrimination, and access to information. The class has been individually reading self-selected books including Lord of the Flies, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, The House on Mango Street, and The Lathe of Heaven. For their conference event, the students took on the persona of their selected book’s author, explaining their personal background and what led them to write their critically lauded work. The group asked one another thoughtful questions about their respective works’ messages and intended takeaways. The group discussed their thoughts on access to education, free speech, gender and racial equality, and power, connecting those themes to both their own time period as well as to our current moment in history.

Academic showcases are a highlight of Family Weekend, and they allow parents to experience their children’s classes firsthand. Teachers welcomed families into their classrooms, where students presented projects and activities they’ve been working on throughout fall term. In 9th grade biology class, students gave presentations on the plant and animal cell models they’ve been constructing over the past few weeks. Some students chose to construct their cells using materials from our ceramics studio, while others, including David and Sam, baked and decorated their cell cakes in our Teaching and Learning Kitchen. Students Hart and Darren designed their cell using the video game Minecraft. In our 7th grade science classes, students demonstrated a lab exercise for their visiting families. The lab instructed the group to combine water, Alka-Seltzer, oil, and food coloring. The resulting “lava lamp” reaction of continuous and colorful bubbling was a huge hit with both the students and their visiting families.

ARTS

During Family Weekend, art teachers invite visitors to their studio spaces and display students’ work around campus. The Main Building and WallyPAC performing arts center featured works from art classes including photography, ceramics, and woodshop. Guests marveled at the Teaching and Learning Kitchen sign made out of seeds that our Community Arts has been working on for the past few weeks, while Eliza posed with the finished table she’s been constructing in the woodshop.

Family Weekend also featured two student performances—the 4th-6th grade production of The Greek Mythology Olympiaganza and the Impact Theater Class’s original production. The younger students have been working on their production, which connects their social studies’ Ancient Greece curriculum to their theater class, throughout the fall term. Impact class wrote original scenes on the subjects of home, belonging, displacement, and social justice that were woven together into a moving play centered around Hurricane Katrina. At the end of the Impact show, the cast and crew fielded audience questions about their writing process and motivations for creating a work on those global topics.

OUTDOORS

One of the many area resources for which North Country School students and faculty frequently express gratitude is Mount Van Hoevenberg. The mountain, located directly across the street from NCS, has a hiking trail that winds up to a picturesque summit and over 50 kilometers of Olympic cross-country ski trails. This week, as fluffy snow continued to blanket the Adirondack region, NCS student groups enjoyed both of these offerings.

A group including students Evie, Justin, and Sweety hiked to the snowy summit, taking in the sprawling views of the surrounding High Peaks mountains and the South Meadow river valley below. Another group started off a highly anticipated cross-country ski season by enjoying the many groomed trails that weave around the Mt. Van Ho Cross-Country Ski Center.

FARM AND GARDEN

This year marked our fourth annual Edible Schoolyard Thanksgiving, an event where our ESY students work together to prepare a full farm-harvest dinner, giving our kitchen staff a night off before the busy NCS Family Weekend. Students prepared a delicious spread of dishes featuring farm-grown ingredients, including chicken and vegetable pot pie; stuffing made from loaves of homemade bread; fruit sauce from our rhubarb and apples; and tea from campus-grown herbs. Our youngest students also illustrated informative signs about the various farm ingredients included in the meal. The festive dinner began by giving thanks for the many hands that took part in the growing, harvesting, and cooking of the food, and for the plants and animals that keep our community fed each year.

Family Weekend culminates with our community Thanksgiving meal—an event that brings together families, friends, faculty, students, and alumni for a festive and farm-based feast. This year our extended community came together to express gratitude as we shared a harvest meal that included farm-raised turkey, green beans, squash, and mashed potatoes. Many hands and considerable time spent in the kitchen made the event possible, and all were appreciative and joyful as generations of community members sat down to the shared meal. The meal ended with slices of pie made from our own pumpkins and apples, before guests departed for their holiday destinations.

We wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. We will return with updates from our mountain campus on Friday, December 6, 2019.

For more information about the #This Week At NCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .

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