At North Country School, the concepts of community and sustainability are woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. We honor these values in many ways, but they are particularly evident at our annual chicken harvest.
Chicken harvest is a day filled with reverence and respect when we come together to harvest the birds that our students and Camp Treetops campers raised from chicks and cared for while they provided us with thousands of eggs. The meat from those birds will be served in our dining room. Chicken harvest is a “challenge by choice” opportunity, in which students are involved to whatever extent they feel able. The students who choose not to participate in the harvest are invited to an alternate vegetable harvest. Students who do choose to participate in the chicken harvest learn the steps that bring humanely-raised meat to our plates. It is a powerful and difficult day, one that teaches students and teachers important lessons about support, respect, and our connection to the food that sustains us.
To view more photos from this year’s chicken harvest, see this week’s Farm and Garden section at the bottom of this post.
In our 6th grade social studies class, students have spent the first few weeks of fall term discussing identity and community. This week’s lessons have centered around how others view their identity. After hearing some poetry by American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, the class designed masks that reflect aspects of their identity that they want others to see. The lesson, created by educational organization Facing History, helps students use a creative visual medium to reflect their feelings on their own projected image, and to determine how they might want that image to stay the same or change as they continue to learn and grow.
In 9th grade English class students have spent the past week creating papers, comics, or scripted dialogues demonstrating how common fallacies (logical errors in argumentation) and cognitive biases (poor decision-making caused by the brain taking shortcuts) come up in everyday life. This week the class gave presentations to our younger students, explaining why these fallacies and cognitive biases cause problems when arguing a point or making a smart decision. Student Emily gave a presentation on the overconfidence bias using Cookie Monster as an example, while student Julia created original artwork that explained the concept of loaded questions.
At North Country School, students are given the opportunity to participate in the visual and performing arts in many ways. Each week in our music program, teacher Joey Izzo leads our youngest students through a singalong, during which they work on vocal exercises and sing a variety of classic and contemporary songs. Our older students are also invited to sing and play instruments, either in private lessons or in collaboration with one another. In band class, students including Jenny, Steven, Josie, Duke, and Olivia have been practicing playing together and hope to perform for their peers later in the term.
In the 2D art studio the students in Community Art class are continuing their work on their Mother Earth Project parachute. The group, including students Sonya, Summer, and JT, took advantage of the beautiful fall weather to work outside while they added a rainbow of color to their vibrant design.
This past weekend saw two of our residential houses, Bramwell and Algonquin, participating in overnight camping trips. The students and houseparents in Algonquin House spent their overnight trip paddling in the nearby St. Regis Canoe Area, where they camped and had a cookout by the campfire. The students and houseparents in Bramwell House traveled to nearby Crown Point, New York, where they camped at the state park and explored the fort. The group also visited the historic site’s museum, where they learned about the history of the Lake Champlain region and saw a dugout canoe that was carved in the 1600s.
This past Saturday teacher Noni and farm intern Brianna took a group of students to another nearby historic fort, Fort Ticonderoga, for their annual Heritage, Harvest, and Horse Festival. The group, which included students Tiri, Azalech, and Paula, viewed horse demonstrations and reenactments and explored the fort’s beautiful historic gardens.
FARM AND GARDEN
Fall at North Country School brings with it the need to harvest many of the foods grown on our farm. Chicken harvest is a day of mixed emotions for every member of our community—a day when we come together with kindness, caring, and patience, as we process the many chickens and turkeys that will help feed us through the coming year.
The morning began with barn manager Erica gathering students and teachers together to discuss how the day would look. She outlined what everyone could expect to see and experience in the hours ahead, and made sure that students knew that they would be able to choose their level of participation. She also explained that each station would have several adults there to support and work alongside the students.
Many of our older students, including Jessica, Bladen, Sky, Julia, and Tsinat chose to take birds through the entire process, and adults Selden and Shannon waited at Dexter Pasture to carefully hand over chickens to be carried up the hill. Further along in the process, adults including Sierra and Jess talked students through the scalding process and explained how to remove feathers. At the next station, teachers Colin, Gavi, and Ted led 9th graders through a biology lesson in which the class learned about internal anatomy as they helped clean and prepare the birds. The final station at chicken harvest involves weighing and bagging birds, and our younger children often help at this point in the process, putting numbers on log sheets and sending the meat to our freezers for use throughout the year.
The group of students who chose not to participate in the chicken harvest also worked hard throughout the morning, harvesting leeks and moving the firewood that will be used to heat our residential spaces throughout the winter.
For some NCS teachers and students, this was their first time at an event like chicken harvest, and the day brought out many thoughts and feelings that were shared in conversations that followed. For others, like teachers Noni and Larry, the event has been a part of their lives for many years. For all members of our community, it is a difficult and moving day that emphasizes how we come together to lend a hand, support one another, and feel connected to one another and to the animals that sustain us.
Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.
For more information about the #This Week At NCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .