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Photo: A weekend trip group on the summit of Wright Peak.

Since our founding nearly a century ago, North Country School has been dedicated to providing our students with the opportunity to learn and grow while exploring the natural world around them. Whether it be while studying how the trees in our region adapt to the different seasons during a science lesson, or while hiking to a mountain summit during an early-season snowstorm, the connection to the outdoors formed during their time at NCS stays with our students long after they leave campus. This week we saw groups take in the views—and cheer one another on—from atop two of the Adirondacks’ 4,000-foot High Peaks, climb new routes on our campus climbing crag, and learn about local ecosystems during an all-day visit to one of the Adirondack Park’s conservation organizations. It was wonderful seeing the curiosity, positivity, and adventurous spirit of our students on display, and we know that the impact of the special moments will extend far beyond these fleeting fall days.

ACADEMICS

Top: The 4th-grade science class looks at trees on our campus. Middle: The 4th-grade science class visits the Adirondack Mountain Club headquarters and hikes Mt. Jo. Bottom: Anna Olivia, Leo, and Nina on the summit of Mt. Jo.

Over the past several weeks, our 4th-grade scientists have been studying how the different seasons affect the coniferous and deciduous trees in our region, while also learning how Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics can guide how people interact responsibly with nature. To accompany this unit, the class has been participating in a program offered to 4th-grade classes through the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK)—a local conservation and education organization—which seeks to connect students to their local surroundings through science, observation, and thoughtful recreation. This week the group visited the ADK headquarters for a guided hike up Mt. Jo, where they learned about the history of the land, the science of photosynthesis and fall foliage, and how they can responsibly enjoy and care for the wild spaces all around us and for our shared global environment.

Top: Yehor gives a presentation about fallacies to his 9th-grade English class. Middle 1: David gives a presentation about fallacies to his 9th-grade English class. Middle 2: Vee shows the 6th-grade social studies class her map. Middle 3: Abel, Brynn, and Octa look at a map in 6th-grade social studies class. Bottom: Abel and Octa’s map from 6th-grade social studies class.

As part of their unit on persuasive writing techniques, our 9th-grade English students gave presentations about fallacies to an audience of their peers and other community adults. Using humorous and relevant examples, each student taught a lesson about a different fallacy, which is an error in logic that destabilizes an argument. The engaging presentations explained concepts including the “false cause” fallacy, where a speaker erroneously argues that one event caused another, even though the two may not be causally linked.

Meanwhile, our 6th-grade social studies students continued their Fall Term unit about maps by putting on their cartographer’s hats for their own mapmaking projects. Students paired up to create maps of different campus locations of their choosing, with flexible parameters that only required each map to include a legend, an explanation of scale, and a compass rose. Each pair worked together to decide how much of campus to include, how to orient their map, and how to label different places. The fun project expanded upon a previous lesson about the Mercator projection, which introduced the class to the concept that cartographers have many decisions to make and priorities to consider as they create their maps.

ARTS

Top: Lauren and Nadya wear in-progress bugbear monster costumes from the fall theater production. Middle 1: An in-progress monster head. Middle 2: Alvaro makes monster scales. Middle 3: Marley makes monster scales. Bottom: The in-progress Tiamat dragon monster body gets covered in scales.

Great progress is being made on the large moving set pieces for our Fall Term production of She Kills Monsters—a drama-comedy play about fantasy role-playing games. Our Stagecraft class has been hard at work designing and constructing these impressive set pieces, which will fill the stage and set the scene during the Family Weekend performances in November.

Top: Karina and Colin give a presentation on music sound waves during lunch council. Middle 1: Karina draws a sound wave. Middle 2: Gerardo listens to a piano tutorial in music class. Bottom: Mavi plays bass guitar in music class.

There was also plenty of music to be heard around campus this week, both in class and out. For this week’s “Musical Monday” announcement during lunch council, teachers Karina and Colin worked together to connect the sound-wave lessons taking place in 6th-grade science class with the instrumental music we hear drifting from our studios spaces each day. Karina, along with some help from the 6th-grade class, explained how sound waves move through particles and space, causing vibrations that are received by our ears. Colin then played his guitar through an amplifier, which increased the volume of the music by increasing the energy and intensity of those sound waves, making them louder. The idea of sound-wave size relating to a difference in volume was reiterated during music class, as students listened to music tutorials quietly through headphones before playing their own instruments with the use of amplifiers. We are looking forward to hearing our students perform these practiced pieces together in the upcoming weeks and during Family Weekend in November.

OUTDOORS

Top: A weekend trip group on the Ski Hill. Middle 1: A weekend trip group climbs at the campus crag. Middle 2: A weekend trip group hikes by Lake Champlain. Middle 3: Ariana, Emma, and Natalie in front of Lake Champlain. Bottom: A weekend trip group explores a corn maze.

This past weekend brought with it a wide variety of fun outdoor activities, both on our campus and in our local area. One group helped the community while taking in the fall foliage during a morning spent doing trail work on our campus Ski Hill, before visiting the Crag for an afternoon of climbing. Another group visited Point Au Roche—a beautiful state park that sits at the edge of Lake Champlain—where they hiked the trails before spending some time enjoying the view of Vermont from across the lake. Meanwhile, a few of our students and teachers visited one of the apple orchards in our region to participate in a few favorite fall traditions, including picking apples and exploring a sprawling corn maze.
Top: A weekend trip group on the summit of Algonquin Mountain. Middle 1: A weekend group hikes to the Wright Peak summit. Middle 2: Joseph at a lookout on Wright Peak. Bottom: Hiking boots and a marker on the Algonquin Mountain summit.

This past weekend also saw a group of students participating in one of the more rugged outdoor trips of the year—a hike up nearby Wright Peak and Algonquin Mountain. These two 4,000+ foot summits are part of the “NCS 10” challenge, which recognizes NCS community members who have successfully hiked the 10 high points that can be seen from the North Country School campus. The group spent a long (and chilly) day hiking through both fall foliage and snowy conditions to achieve their goal of reaching both summits, covering 8.4 miles of ground with more than 3,600 feet of elevation gain! We are so proud of our resilient hikers for working together and supporting one another while achieving this impressive goal.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Garden Manager Kim talks to the school before Potato Harvest. Middle 1: Harvesting potatoes in Dexter Pasture. Middle 2: Wyatt carries a bucket of potatoes. Middle 3: Vee and Scott harvest potatoes. Bottom: Leo and Ian with bags of harvested potatoes.

It was another busy fall week on the North Country School farm, with several all-school harvests that reminded us that many hands make light work. The first took place over in Dexter Pasture, where the community met last spring to plant the yearly potato crop. This past Thursday we gathered in that spot once again to dig up and collect the potatoes that have been growing there over the past five months.

Everyone worked together under bright bluebird skies and a vibrant mountain backdrop to harvest this important staple crop, and after a final weigh in we were excited to learn that the 720 pounds of seed potatoes we planted in May developed into an impressive 3,076 pounds of harvested potatoes! This bounty will be stored in our root cellar throughout the year, and used in meals prepared in our dining room, as an ingredient in homenight meals, and in recipes cooked up by students in our Edible Schoolyard classes.


Top: Barn Manager Erica talks to the school before Chicken Harvest. Middle 1: Claire hands David a chicken. Middle 2: Laurie plucks a chicken. Middle 3: Ryan, Tahj, and Wyatt carry buckets of water. Middle 4: Adela and Ariana clean chickens. Middle 5: Meredith and Rosalie put cleaned birds into storage bags. Middle 6: David and Owen harvest leeks. Bottom: Trimming the roots off a leek.

The other all-school harvest this week was also an important reminder that coming together as a community with kindness, patience, and support is especially important during the moments we find most challenging. This past Wednesday we gathered together for our annual Chicken Harvest—the day when we process the birds in our flock that have been raised for eggs and meat. Chicken Harvest is a day that brings up mixed feelings for all members of our community, and is a time to acknowledge how food gets to our plates, as well as the many choices involved in raising agricultural animals with compassion and respect.

This year’s Chicken Harvest began with Barn Manager Erica gathering the students and teachers to discuss how the morning would look, and making sure that students knew they would have adult support throughout the process. Adults then led the group through the various stations, which include plucking, cleaning, bagging, and weighing the birds. While some students chose to take birds through every step of the harvest process, others worked at the stations where they felt most comfortable. Students who decided to opt out of Chicken Harvest also spent the morning helping the community in a different way by harvesting, trimming, and cleaning our yearly leek crop. It was a powerful day for everyone involved, one that reminded us of the hard work that goes into providing food for not just our small campus, but also for the greater global community, and that we should always take the time to appreciate and acknowledge the many people and animals that help sustain us.

Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.

For general school information, call 518-523-9329.