Photo: Kate and Ariana climb at the Crag during an on-campus orientation activity.
Welcome back to the North Country School campus, and to the first This Week At NCS blog post of the academic year! This past week, students returned to our mountain campus after a summer away, ready to explore their surroundings, meet new classmates, and reconnect with old friends. After a few days of outdoor orientation activities, we began the Fall Term in earnest with the first week of our regular school programming.
It was great seeing so many smiling faces back exploring our campus trails, visiting our barns and greenhouses, creating in our art studios, and learning in our classrooms. As we look forward to the months ahead, we are excited to gather together for the many community harvest events, imaginative wilderness games, and place-based lessons to come. We hope you will join us along the way!
Note: The This Week At NCS blog features weekly updates from our mountain campus. Check in each Friday for a window into the many ways our students are learning, growing, and exploring during their time at North Country School. To be added to the weekly mailing list, email .
Top: Caroline talks to the 4th-grade class about their classroom norms. Middle: Edison explains a numerical pattern to his classmates. Bottom: Eleanor and Emily work together on their triangle worksheet.
During this first week of school programming, we saw the theme “introduction” appear across subject areas and grade levels. In 4th-grade English Language Arts (ELA) class, students were introduced to their classroom norms and to the many ways they can support one another during group discussions. Meanwhile, our 5th-grade students were introduced to the concept of mathematical patterns during a lesson about Pascal’s triangle. Students learned about the numerical patterns hidden within triangles as they worked together to fill in their own triangles. The class will return to the concept of mathematical patterns in the upcoming weeks when they learn about the Fibonacci sequence—a numerical sequence that accounts for many of the repeating patterns found in nature including those present in flower petals, pinecones, and pine needles.
Top: Matías and Joseph exchange business cards in Japanese class. Middle1: River holds out his business card in Japanese class. Middle 2: Claire looks at blackout poetry with Andrew and Anika. Middle 3: Marley works on his blackout poem. Bottom: Marley’s completed blackout poem.
Our 8th- and 9th-grade Japanese class approached the concept of introductions head on during a lesson about how to exchange meishi, or business cards. After watching a video on the traditional method of bowing and presenting these business cards to one another, students paired up and practiced introducing themselves to each other in Japanese.
Meanwhile, our 8th-grade U.S. history class took advantage of a break in the rainy weather to enjoy one of our favorite outdoor learning spaces—the annual flower garden bed. The class gathered by the vibrant blossoms to learn an interdisciplinary lesson that introduced them to their unit on the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. The class began the week by learning about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Each student was then given the option to use either the Emancipation Proclamation or the poem “O Captain! My Captain!,” by Walt Whitman, as a starting point to create nature blackout poetry—also known as erasure poetry—that could connect the history of those documents to this current moment in time and to their own individual perspectives. Students chose words or phrases they wanted to highlight, blacked out everything else on the page with markers, and foraged for natural materials to enhance their creations. Photographs of these powerful works of art will be displayed in the Main Building for public viewing in the upcoming weeks.
Top: The Farm to Fiber bulletin board. Middle: Enola knits using NCS wool. Bottom: Oliver and Mina help wind skein of yarn.
At North Country School, our barn and gardens are not just places we visit during farm activities; they are connected to everything that we do. One of the many ways our farm is woven, quite literally, into our arts classes is through our Farm to Fiber program. Twice a year our flock of sheep is shorn, and that wool is cleaned and used in our fiber arts classes. This past week, the students in Wearable Art class used that yarn to begin knitting the clothing they’ll be working on for the next several weeks. Over the course of the year, other students will also use the spun and dyed wool in colorful weavings created on our looms, while the unspun wool will be used to create the many whimsical needle-felted creatures that decorate our buildings each year.
Top: Conway shows ceramics students different handbuilding techniques. Middle 1: Laurie looks at a textured slab pitcher. Middle 2: Dance students warm up at the beginning of class. Bottom: Students work together to choreograph a dance.
This week, students in our studio art and performing arts classes began learning the foundational knowledge they’ll build on throughout the term. In ceramics class, Conway explained the various methods used to handbuild pottery vessels, including slab rolling, pinching, and coiling. Students will work in each of these techniques to create their own fired ceramic pieces over the next several weeks. Meanwhile, our dance studio was full of movement and sound as Samara showed her class how to warm up and move through different ballet and modern dance positions. After stretching, the students began working on the choreography for the original dances they will perform for the extended community at the end of the Fall Term.
Top: The 4th- and 5th-grade classes on the top of Cobble Hill. Middle 1: The 6th grade class on the top of Mount Jo. Middle 2: Laurie, Kate, and Rosalie in their fort. Middle 3: The 8th-grade class plays team-building games. Middle 4: The 9th-grade class listens to instructions at MetroRock Climbing Gym. Bottom: Lauren navigates a high ropes course.
During the first few days of the school year at North Country School, our students have the opportunity to get to know one another, our campus, and our surrounding area during orientation. During this year’s orientation, each of our grade levels participated in a different activity that allowed them to reconnect with old friends and forge bonds with new ones.
Our younger grades took advantage of the surrounding mountainous region, with our 4th- and 5th-grade classes hiking nearby Cobble Hill, while our 6th-grade class hiked to the summit of Mount Jo, which sits above the Adirondack Mountain Club headquarters just a few miles from campus. Our 7th-graders built forts together during a fun wilderness challenge, while our 8th-grade class spent the day exploring our 220-acre campus playing team building games, harvesting vegetables from our gardens, and cooking a farm-fresh lunch in the Teaching and Learning Kitchen. Our 9th-grade class traveled a bit farther from home to visit MetroRock Climbing Gym, just across Lake Champlain in Vermont, to practice their rock climbing techniques, balance on a slackline, and move through a challenging high ropes course.
Top: A Saturday trip group on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain. Middle 1: Students climb the Poke-O-Moonshine fire tower. Middle 2: A Saturday trip group on Balanced Rocks. Middle 3: Josh jumps between the boulders at Balanced Rocks. Middle 4: A Saturday trip group climbs at the Crag. Bottom: Tahj climbs a route at the Crag.
At NCS, our outdoor program offers students a wide variety of activities to participate in throughout the week, both during weekday afternoon out-times and during weekend trips. This past Saturday we kicked off our regular weekend programming with a wide variety of exciting on- and off-campus activities. One group hiked up nearby Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, where they took in the early autumn views of Lake Champlain, while another ventured to the Balanced Rocks landing. The spectacular viewpoint sits directly above campus, and is a longtime favorite of current and former NCS students. A third group spent the day climbing at the Crag, one of the most popular spots on campus. The Crag will continue to be a regularly visited spot throughout the Fall Term, as students hone their skills and work toward the coveted Pink Piton and Blue Carabiner benchmarks that celebrate completing routes of varying difficulty.
FARM AND GARDEN
Top: The 4th- and 5th-grade Edible Schoolyard class harvests beans. Middle 1: Anna Olivia, Eleanor, and Nina shell dried beans. Middle 2: An Edible Schoolyard elective class visits the pigs. Middle 2: An Edible Schoolyard elective class explores the Children’s Garden. Middle 3: Cucamelons grown in our campus greenhouse.
At North Country School, we are proud to be one of the six founding members of the Edible Schoolyard Project, which was started in Berkeley, California, in the 1990s with the goal of connecting students to farm-fresh food. Children have been engaged with the farm and garden on the North Country School campus since our founding nearly a century ago, and while much of the world around us has changed, how our students participate in their local food systems remains remarkably similar. The farm is an everyday part of life at NCS, with students attending barn chores, out-time activities, and class lessons that allow them to care for our farm animals and explore our greenhouses and gardens.
This week our Edible Schoolyard (ESY) classes got to know our various campus barn and garden spaces. Students visited our fields to harvest and separate dried beans, walked to the wooded enclosures where our pigs live throughout the summer and fall, and picked and taste- tested different varieties of tomatoes, basil, and cucumbers in our Children’s Garden and greenhouses. The classes will return to these farm spaces throughout the term to learn more about the many systems at work and factors involved in bringing food to our tables, both in our own campus Dining Room and all around the world.
Check back next week to see what we’re up to on our mountain campus.
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