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Photo: Studio art class works on their nature-inspired watercolor paintings.

At North Country School, one of our core values is cultivating our students’ curiosity through creative pursuits. Engaging students in “art every day” inspires our young artists to explore both their individual expression and their collaborative voices. This week, our studio artists learned the fundamentals of watercolor painting and perspective drawing; our photographers explored outdoor spaces while learning about depth of field; and our musicians worked together to write original songs. We are excited to see our students continue to hone their skills and find new interests as the Fall Term progresses, and look forward to viewing (and hearing) many of these completed projects at our end-of-term Showcases in November.

ACADEMICS

Top: Scott talks to his science class about the difference between laws and theories. Middle 1: Emma takes notes in science class. Middle 2: Scott asks students to make observations about what they see. Bottom: Mina and Kate make observations.

There was plenty of scientific curiosity in our North Country School classrooms this week. Our 7th-grade scientists began the Fall Term by learning about the scientific method, and the class was able to put their learning into practice during a lab activity that highlighted the difference between observations and inferences. The group was asked to record observations about a lit candle and a bottle that contained bugs floating in pond water. The students quickly noticed that their observations about what they were seeing didn’t match their assumptions about the situations. When it was revealed that the “lit candle” was actually a cheese stick with a lit almond stuck in the top and the “bugs in pond water” were actually raisins floating in soda, the class discussed the importance of basing observations on the objective sensory information available, and that any inferences made should be based on those observations. These skills, and the class’s understanding of the scientific method, will form the foundation of many of the activities and lessons the class will participate in throughout the year to come.

Top: Melissa gives a presentation on John Muir. Middle1: The 8th-grade history class listens to presentations. Middle 2: Orrin gives a presentation on Rachel Carson. Middle 3: Liz talks to Edison about his reading book. Bottom: Strawberry, the 5th-grade classroom axolotl.

In 8th grade Environmental Science, students practiced their scientific research skills during mini-research projects on figures who made significant contributions to the field of environmental science. Students presented their projects to their peers, describing how historic figures like John Muir and Rachel Carson, along with modern-day young people like Greta Thunberg, have changed how people see, interact with, and work to protect the world around us and our shared natural resources.

Meanwhile, our youngest students have been exploring one of our most popular campus resources: the bounty of books in our library. This week our 5th-grade class dove into the fantasy worlds of their favorite books while sharing the classroom with one of our favorite on-campus animals, Strawberry the axolotl. Strawberry—who was rescued by 5th-grade teacher Karina’s former professor after being given up by his previous owners—is a curious creature who offers plenty of opportunities for our youngest students to learn, whether it be while observing him rest in his rock hideaway, or while helping to feed him his favorite food (red wiggler worms).

ARTS

Top: Jenny takes a photo of Ariana. Middle 1: Vivián takes a photo. Middle 2: Sophie works on a watercolor painting. Middle 3: Matt works on a perspective drawing. River and Katie write a song together. Bottom: Roan practices guitar.

The arts program at North Country School offers our students both film and digital photography classes, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics and art of this medium. This week our dark room photography students took a field trip to the nearby village of Lake Placid to gain hands-on experience with their film cameras. Each student selected a spot to photograph and then took several photos using different depths of field. The class will bring their film into the darkroom to develop their prints and analyze how these different choices change the overall effect of their images on the viewer.

In our studio art classes, images began to take shape, not in the darkroom, but on the page with paint and pencil during lessons on watercolor landscape painting and perspective drawing. The colorful creations have been brightening up our art room in much the same way as the music filtering out of the Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) studio spaces. There, students have been collaborating with their peers on original song compositions, as well as practicing their own instrumental skills under the guidance of residential musician and teacher, Gwen.

OUTDOORS

Top: A Saturday trip group on Mount Van Hoevenberg. Middle 1: Lauren and Adela on the Nun-da-ga-o Ridge. Middle 2: A Saturday trip group on the way to Owl’s Head Lookout. Bottom: Yehor at the top of Owl’s Head Lookout.

It was an amazing week of outdoor adventures, with the changing autumn landscape providing the perfect backdrop to time spent out-of-doors. Weekend trips took advantage of the cool and crisp fall conditions during hikes to several favorite local spots—Mount Van Hoevenberg, the Nun-da-ga-o Ridge, and Owl’s Head Lookout. Viewing the sprawling Adirondack mountain ranges from thousands of feet of elevation never stops feeling special, and we are thrilled each year to see students summit peaks and take in these impressive vistas for the first time.

Top: Emily and Eleanor explore the campus woods. Middle 1: Leo plays in the campus woods. Middle 2: Cascade House students make leaf art. Bottom: A colorful leaf-art spiral.

There were also plenty of on-campus activities this week, as students took in the fall foliage on our own 220-acre mountain home. Students went on trail walks during classes and afternoon out-times, played woods games, and participated in one of our favorite annual projects—autumn leaf art. The students of Cascade House collected different color leaves from our maple sugarbush and beech forest, before laying out the vibrant foliage in an eye-catching and ephemeral design that was enjoyed until the breezy day scattered the leaves back into our surrounding landscape.

FARM AND GARDEN

Top: Horses in the pasture. Middle 1: Laurie and Nadya milk Bambi the goat. Bottom: Keegan moves hay in the barnyard.

At North Country School, students participate in daily barn chores as a regular part of our community job rotation—a special and memorable part of the NCS experience that allows both students and adults to participate in the meaningful work that shapes our everyday lives. For two weeks at a time, different house groups visit the barn either before breakfast or before dinner to help care for the many farm animals that make up our working farm.

For the past few weeks our students have been milking our nanny goat, Bambi; bringing hay to our flock of sheep and herd of horses; collecting eggs from our chicken coop, and refilling food and water in our chicken and turkey enclosures. As with much of what life looks like on our campus, the different roles students play during barn chores changes with the seasons. In the upcoming months this work will shift as we move through the different life cycles involved in animal farming. Students will help harvest some of our animals for meat, clean the wool sheared from our sheep, and winterize the spaces that house our barnyard creatures during the long Adirondack winter.

Top: An out-time group gets ready to open the beehive. Middle: An out-time group uses smoke to calm the bees. Bottom: An out-time group winterizes the beehive.

Another spot on our North Country School campus that allows students to participate in the seasonal cycles of our farm is our campus beehive. The beehive, which sits between our greenhouses and raspberry patch, was the site of an afternoon out-time led by resident bee enthusiast Elyssa. Elyssa talked to the group about the ways the bees interact with our gardens by pollinating our many fruits, vegetables, and flowers, in addition to providing us with beeswax and honey. The group then discussed the different ways we can prepare our bees for winter, before everyone donned bee gear and opened up the hive.

After using smoke to calm the bees, the group checked on the status of the comb and honey, and fitted the hive with a BeeCozy—an insulating wrap that fits around the outside of the hive and functions in much the same way a sleeping bag or winter coat would. In the upcoming weeks Elyssa and different student groups will check the hive again to make sure that the bees continue to look healthy, and to install homemade sugar cakes that will provide supplementary food once there are no more flowers around to provide nectar.