Doing Your Best Work on Midterms and Finals


Sierra Benjamin ’18 in the living room, studying for a midterm. (Photo: Kelsey Bannister ’17)

For the 2016-2017 school year at Northwood, there have been many changes, including administering midterm exams before the start of the Holiday Break rather than after, as it had been done for nearly two decades.

The two-to-three hours a student spends on a midterm exam can be worth as much as twenty percent of a student’s semester grade, so doing well is important to maintaining good grades. Here are some tips to get the most out of your preparation for midterms.

Students should know what content is covered and what content is not covered, exactly how the test is structured, and how much each question type is weighted. Pay close attention to when their tests are and and create a calendar depicting how each day of the week is going to go, according to their testing schedule. Students should also be aware of their teacher’s review sessions, and come to review sessions ready with questions.

A study schedule should be created where time is built in for exercise or spending time with friends to eliminate the stress towards the tests; students need to take care of their bodies in order to perform well on the tests. Sometimes students deactivate their social media accounts in order to stay on top of studying and not to get distracted while studying.

Most Northwood students think that the changed Midterm Schedule will help them achieve their goal of a high grade on the tests. Sabryna Strack, senior and four year student at Northwood, said, “I think the testing before break is more stressful initially, but it will be better for when we return from holiday break.” Sierra Benjamin, a junior and three year student at Northwood, agreed: “I think it’s better to do the tests before break because everyone will forget everything they’ve learned during break.  I think it will give the students a better opportunity in really understanding and grasping the concepts. I bet you will see better grades because the tests are before everybody goes away.” Aiden Smith, sophomore and second year student at Northwood, also likes the new test calendar. “I think it’s good to have the tests before Christmas break because we don’t have to worry about studying over the break and we can catch up on sleep and relax,” said Smith. “I think it’s more beneficial to have the tests before break rather than after.”

For most ninth graders at Northwood, this will be their first time taking a longer exam that will be weighted more than the tests that they take in a classroom. Tommy Bannister said, “I am not looking forward to midterms because I’m really nervous. I do like having them before break to get the tests done and over with. I think they will be harder than normal tests because it’s more than just a week’s information.” Lexi Hooper, also a freshman said, “I think the tests won’t be too bad because we have an entire week of review to prepare. I’m just worried because I don’t really do well with tests but I’d rather have them before break when everything is fresh in our heads.”

Changes Improve Family Weekend

During the second weekend in October, Columbus Day weekend (for Americans) or Thanksgiving Weekend (for Canadians), Northwood School hosted the annual “Family Weekend” on campus. This year, Northwood added a few activities for students and their families, including an Innovation + Design Workshop, a reception for International Parents and Students and a LEAP Program Question and Answer on Saturday.

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Led by Ms. Jill Walker, Ms. Mavis Miller and Ms. Linda D’Arco, the Innovation + Design Workshop gave families some firsthand experience with this exciting new class. “We held two Innovation + Design workshops for Northwood families during Family Weekend,” Ms. D’Arco said. “Our objective was to share the type of work that our students are doing and engage our guests in that kind of creative thinking and prototyping. We made eleven new inventions in the workshops. They are all based on adapting the design of a standard wheelchair to help its user perform activities they otherwise couldn’t perform. Workshop participants designed an umbrella mechanism, a chair that turns into a trolley for working under cars, a gyroscopic chair, and a device for raising and lowering the foot rests, among others. It was energizing to see all those families engaging in meaningful problem solving together!”

The Reception for International Parents and Students was also a new activity for Northwood Family Weekend, and Dr. Laura Finnerty-Paul was the leader for that program. Dr. Paul said “This year we hosted the first Head of School Reception for international families.  It provided us with an opportunity to meet the families of some of our international students in a small group setting to understand some of the unique opportunities Northwood provides their students, and the challenges they face being so far from home.  We look forward to the event growing in the coming years.”

The LEAP Program Question and Answer was another new activity for families. Ms. Fagan was able to give answers to the questions from parents with students in grades 9-11 and give information about the different LEAP course offerings that students have for Spring of 2017. There are 13 courses ranging from Green Building and Design, Art of the Adirondack Great Camps, Mountain Rescue, Geothermal Sustainability in Iceland, and Marine Ecology in the Bahamas, as well as many others.

While most parents are not on campus everyday and see their child grow and develop at a boarding school, Mr. Donatello is fortunate enough to experience it all. Mr. Donatello is the athletic trainer at Northwood and has a daughter (Sara Donatello ‘18) who attends Northwood School and plays hockey, so his perspective of Family Weekend is a little different, compared to parents who live many hours away. “Family weekend for a faculty member with a child at school is still very useful,” Mr. Donatello said. “Sara spends so much time at school that the weekend is a great time for me to connect the dots in relation to what I hear her say about classes and how she is doing.  The reality of her academic standing here at school is clear by the end of the weekend.  I love having Sara around all day.  I consider myself lucky.  I like being the ‘Northwood dad’ to all her friends that have families far away.  Next year it will be even better with two daughters here.  This is what I have been waiting all these years for.  We’re very excited.”

For parents who don’t see their children every day, their viewpoints of Family Weekend was a little different. Mrs. Christine DiCesare whose twin boys (AJ and Christian) are PGs, had nothing but positive things to say about Family Weekend. On a phone interview she said, “I loved that unlike school events at other schools, I got to meet the teachers and see the style of the classroom and see the way the teacher is when in a classroom setting with students during class time. It was extraordinary. The interactivity of the classroom truly struck me. I was given a guitar when I went to my son’s guitar class. I really loved the open time slots to go and talk to the teachers if you wanted to. I loved the interactive style that was portrayed by all faculty and students. It was just a great weekend overall.”

Questions for Saara Keranen ‘17



Sara Keranen ’17

What is your secret talent?
Doing eyebrows


What would you do with a million dollars?
Give some to my roommate, Sierra Benjamin

If you could be anyone else, dead or alive,  who would it be?

If you could see any artist dead or alive, who would you see?

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Three arms

What movie character would you be?
Bob the Minion

What living person do you most admire?
Runyon brothers

If you could travel in time, would you go ten years back or forward?
10 years back

If you could go back to your first day of high school, what advice would you give yourself?
Don’t be shy

How would you like to die?
I’m not going to die

What would your last meal be?

If you could avoid a school subject for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Get to Know Ms. Brenda Cotton



Ms. Brenda Cotton (Photo: Kelsey Bannister ’17)

What is your job here at Northwood?
My job is the director of the new learning center program at Northwood and I am also a learning coach for students that come to the learning center.

What brought you to Northwood?
Well, I lived in Lake Placid for 26 years, and I’ve worked in the area schools for that long. I learned about this program being developed, and I was quite interested and was very excited to become involved with its development.

What made you pick your career?
Interesting, I didn’t really pick it, it kind of picked me. I went to college as most students do out of high school, and I had visions of majoring in French or languages, and within a week, I found myself in the education department. I originally started believing I would be an elementary teacher and then just wanted to add more to that part of my life and landed in special education. I took a dual major in those, and then I just fell in love with it. There was a lot of hands on, psychology, learning all the subjects. It was really just a field that embraced a lot of the elements of education. [Read more…]

Students Celebrate 40th Mountain Day

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On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, Northwood School students continued the tradition of Mountain Day, a day off from classes where the entire school community hikes an Adirondack high peak. This year was the fortieth annual Mountain Day for Northwood School. Combined, the school covers well over 1200-1500 miles hiked between the individual groups.

[Read more…]

Triple Threat Profile: Ashley Davis ‘17


Ashley Davis ’17 (photo by Sarah Bennett ’19)

Hometown: Winterville, NC

Three All Time Favorite Artists:

  1. G-Eazy
  2. Beyoncé
  3. Taylor Swift

Three People You Want To Be Stuck With On A Deserted Island:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Kendall Dubin
  3. Beyoncé

Three People You Would Call In an Emergency:

  1. Kiannah Thomas
  2. My Mom
  3. Sara Donatello

As told to Kelsey Bannister ‘17

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