Learn • Engage • Apply • Perform
At Northwood, students learn by doing – that’s the guiding principle for the school's L.E.A.P. Program, an experiential learning curriculum launched in 2017. Northwood faculty leverage individual expertise to craft week-long courses which immerse students in unique subjects. Students choose their L.E.A.P courses in the first trimester and then meet periodically throughout the year in preparation for L.E.A.P week in May.
L.E.A.P. courses take students and faculty out of the classroom for collaborative, first-hand experiences. Students work with experts in the field and are provided opportunities to explore compelling environments and complete ambitious projects resulting in skill development and confidence for future real-world challenges. The L.E.A.P. Showcase that caps the week allows students to share their adventures in learning with the school and local community.
Ready, Set, LEAP!
Each L.E.A.P. course propels students from theory to practice. Teachers guide participants through disciplines as diverse as fly fishing, circus arts, and geothermal energy. These courses give students the opportunity to take on projects and challenges in new settings, and use the information and skills provided by experts to achieve new objectives. The fresh learning perspective encourages student ownership and initiative. Ultimately, L.E.A.P. equips students to navigate complex subjects and tasks independently and successfully.
L.E.A.P. is a place to explore a passion or discover a new interest. View images from Northwood's most recent L.E.A.P. courses.
This course will give students the hands-on opportunity to learn about and experience the value of the Farm to Table movement. Students will explore life on a local organic dairy farm and creamery, learn the art of making cheese, cook with professional chefs in a culinary school lab kitchen and restaurant kitchen, learn techniques for preparing delicious wholesome foods with fresh ingredients and appreciate the fruits of their labor in the company of the others in the group. Students will also visit another local private school to learn about their edible schoolyard and incredible composting system, they will learn about making maple syrup at a local sugarhouse and honey beekeeping through the Adirondack Pollinator Project, and they will enjoy food preparation demonstrations and meals at several local restaurants. The course will culminate with students sharing their newly formed culinary skills with the Northwood School community by preparing and serving a nutritious and tasty meal for other LEAP groups and appetizers during the school’s LEAP showcase. Note: no prior cooking experience is required for this course. Bring a good attitude and the desire to have fun, participate, learn and EAT! Led by Mrs. Wint and Mrs. Van Slyke
This course will focus on the modern circus as a means to study movement, balance, artistry and biomechanics. Montreal's position as the world capital of the modern circus and the home of Canada's National Circus School will serve as a base for this course. Students will explore elements of the circus such as tightrope walking, trapeze, juggling, acrobatics, trampoline, unicycle, etc. Students must be ready for a physically demanding week with three hours of circus training each day. Some activities will take place high off the ground but with all safety measures in place. Every student must also have the necessary Visa/passport to travel to Canada. Led by Ms. Agnew and Mrs. Walker
Plan and lead an expedition, experience the Adirondacks from the water and woods, and challenge & better get to know yourself in the process. Together as a team, we will paddle, portage, and camp from Long Lake to Saranac Lake (a 45-mile journey), a gorgeous set of waterways by which we can explore the Adirondack Park. In the process, you will learn how to live and travel in the wild, communicate effectively, understand your strengths, habits, and areas of growth, serve a team in a variety of roles (self-leader, peer-leader, active-follower), respect and collaborate with others, balance group and individual goals, and appreciate a few days of simple living off the grid. At the end of our week together, you will have challenged yourself physically and emotionally, stepped away from the constant connectivity of modern life, and grown as a team member and leader. Led by Ms. Treska and Mr. Pierce
This course will begin with students learning basic cooking skills - knife handling, roasting/sautéing, how to make basic sauces and more with our Sodexo kitchen staff. Students will explore the creativity of food within different cultures, the nutritional importance behind athletic performance, the art and science of baking, and kitchen/restaurant management. This course will take students not only to local businesses in Lake Placid but also to the Hudson Valley to explore the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY as well as an Italian cooking experience in Hunter, NY. The final project will include creating a cookbook for the Northwood community. Led by Ms. Haggerty and Mr. Gilligan
Northeast Tobago is a unique corner of the Caribbean with some of the most intact coral reefs in the region within a proposed marine protected area. Working with the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC), the Northwood School LEAP program will include a hands-on introduction to conservation fieldwork skills and methods, while making a tangible contribution to the only coral reef monitoring and restoration program in the region. Students have the option to complete PADI Open Water scuba dive training with a team of experienced instructors and marine biologists. In addition, the ERIC team work directly with the local community to foster resource pride, ownership and passion, with a vision of sustainability for the people and ecosystems of Tobago. Students will have the opportunity to learn about this unique, sustainable ecotourism experience; they will benefit from cultural exchange and gain awareness of the challenges faced by isolated communities. They will also discover what is being done at grassroots level to build social and environmental resilience in the world today. Led by Mr. Dingle and Ms. Getz
The course provides a survey of Adirondack experiences. Students will network with local organizations such as the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), and the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society. For one night, students will camp at Heart Lake which is the access point to the High Peaks region and is run by the Adirondack Mountain Club (AMC). The group will then hike to Avalanche Lake between Algonquin and Colden Mountains (~8 miles round trip). On another day, the group will drive to Indian Lake and raft 17 miles on the Hudson River through class III-IV whitewater. Ziplining, a boat ride on Lake Placid, and a local dinner at a modern Adirondack Great Camp is also planned. Basic outdoor living skills, ecology, history, Adirondack literature, and lore will be presented. The outcome of the course will provide students with a better understanding of the Adirondack Park and the ability to pass on this information to others. Led by Mr. Nemec.
The goal of this program is to educate the students on the history of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. Students spend the entire week at a Great Camp on Upper Saranac Lake, NY. The use of Camp Sandanona as home for the week allows each student to fully embrace what it felt like to live and play in the wilderness many years ago. Some highlights of the course are tours of Camp Pine Knot, Great Camp Sagamore, and St. Hubert’s Isle on Raquette Lake. The students will experience an educational tour of a guideboat makers shop, talk about local freshwater invasive species, build birdhouses and take a trip to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. At camp, activities include paddle boarding, campfire instruction, cooking, rope swinging, rock jumping, fishing and much more. Come visit Camp Sandanona! Led by by Mr. Donatello, Ms. Odell and Mrs. Schachenmayr
Have you ever wondered how the wonderful antiques you see in museums or perhaps in your grandparents homes were made? If you have, you probably know that they were built without the benefit of today’s machinery. This course is a hands-on learning experience using tools of the past. Students will use planes, hand saws, chisels and squares to build a candlebox (about 10” wide, 6”deep and 5”high) with a hinged lid and a foot stool with four legs. Students will make hand-cut dovetails and install an inset hinge. Students will make a free standing simple mortise and tenon joint. Dovetails and mortise and tenon joints are the foundation of traditional furniture. Also important are the woods you will be exposed to—pine, maple, cherry and walnut. One week of working with wood may be your first step on a journey as a maker of tables, chairs, dressers, clocks and more. Led by Mr. Martin and Mr. Green ‘55
This week-long training session culminates with a student-led, hands-on rescue scenario. It will not be a rock-climbing experience. Instead, it will attempt to duplicate real-life methods of professional rope rescuers. Participants may or may not have previous experience – it won't make any difference to this project. Each day will add another layer to the necessary skills set – from basic rope work to lowering and raising systems to first aid and litter packaging. Day five will be the culmination: a real rescue in technical terrain, run by students. Led by Mr. Mellor, Mr. Cassidy and Mr. H Runyon
Did you know Saranac Lake has 6 mountain peaks with challenging ascents that lead to outstanding views of mountains and water? Once you’ve climbed all six, you’ve earned bragging rights — and a 6er patch! During this physically challenging week, you will learn about trail maintenance, sustainable tourism, and how hiking has affected the economy in the Adirondacks. Throughout the week, we will explore Saranac Lake’s restaurants, shops and historic spots. One afternoon and evening will be spent on Upper Saranac Lake where we will enjoy a barbeque and a boat ride. Some brave souls might even jump in the chilly water! If you love the outdoors and want to have a fun week centered around mountains and water, this course is for you. Led by Ms. Fagan and Mr. Portal
This course teaches students rocket science basics and computer modeling so they can imagine, design, build and launch rockets up to four inches in diameter and eight feet tall. Students at least 18 years old may earn their Level 1 certification. Participants will build and launch a model rocket from a kit, and design, construct, and launch a mid-power rocket. There will be a demonstration of various high-power rockets (flying up to 2,500 feet). The class will launch appropriate rockets during a school meeting time, offering commentary to demonstrate what they learned. From this experience, students will learn general problem solving skills, rocket design components and how each affects performance (such as, stability, mass, drag, and thrust), computer modeling, and rocket construction techniques. Led by Mr. Roy and Mr. B Runyon
Jambo? That is how to greet a stranger in Swahili. Come on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the culture and beautiful nature of Tanzania. The 9 day-trip will include authentic cultural interactions including a visit to a traditional Masai Boma (mud hut compound) and plenty of time to explore the African wild, including a safari in the Nogorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Site and an optional volcano trek. We will also engage in a service opportunity with a local school which will be designed based on the interests and skills of the students on the trip. In preparation for the trip, students will learn Swahili customs, language and ways of life. They will also learn some history and about the natural landscape of this unique and peaceful country. Most importantly students will learn how their engagement with and service to others can enhance not only the lives of those on the other side of the world, but their own lives as well. Note: students will miss graduation and two class days after LEAP week ends. Led by Ms. Carmichael and Mr. Spear
The goal of this program will be to provide students a comprehensive overview of sport fishing’s economic role in communities, develop an understanding of fisheries biology in ponds, lakes, and rivers, and of the role of sportsmen in conservation. Students will learn to tie flies, cast a fly rod, and the basics of the sport of fly fishing. It will also provide students with an understanding of aquatic ecosystems and the role of sportsmen as conservationists. Students will work with the Ausable River Association doing a riparian planting or river cleanup and also have the opportunity to meet local artists to learn how fishing has influenced their artistic work. Led by Mr. Welsh, Mr. Eaton, Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Riffle
If you are creative, are interested in or want to learn about yoga and improving your health, this workshop is for you! This engaging and fun program will teach you tools to manage stress and lower anxiety, increase your health and wellness, and provide you a space for self-expression. With the demands of school and increasing social pressures, we can be left feeling nervous, unable to sleep, and uninterested in things that used to be fun. This retreat workshop will be rejuvenating and uplifting. As we engage in a daily Kundalini Yoga and meditation practice we will build strength, increase immune system function and help the nervous system better deal with stress. We will practice several breathing techniques for calming the mind and improving attention. You will learn about using herbs, essential oils and wellness products for better health, relaxation, and taking impeccable care of yourself. We will have evening programs that will include a sound meditation with gongs and other soothing instruments, and drum circle - no experience necessary. Our afternoons will be taken up making art, spending time in nature, journaling, and sharing knowledge. Just come as you are with an open mind! Led by Mrs. Martin and Mr. Muraco ‘00