Pandemic Presents Challenges for Northwood Admissions Office 

The Husky greets new and returning students on opening day in September 2019. (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)

A few weeks ago, the Northwood School admissions team sent out decisions to applicants to the school. In previous years, applicants and their families were strongly encouraged to visit during the application process and were invited back to campus for a revisit day before making their final decisions. The coronavirus pandemic has made it almost impossible to conduct the usual admissions programs without breaking the safety bubble of the students and staff. Admissions office staff told The Mirror that the pandemic did not seem to negatively affect the application pool or process at all. In fact, the pandemic may have made it stronger.  

The application pool was filled with many strong candidates for admission which made the admissions process highly selective and competitive this year. Jeff Miller, a senior member of the admissions team, said “The Northwood 2021-2022 applicant pool was one of the strongest in recent history, with the overall number of applications up 20 year over year.”  

Each year, Northwood becomes more well-known, driving up inquiries. The increased interest comes in part from the school’s social media platforms, word of mouth from current students and alumni, and our strong athletic teams. Miller went on to say, “The admissions committee saw a lot of depth in the applicant pool this year as well, with a high number of qualified candidates.” The deep pool of many strong candidates made admissions decisiondifficult, but it is an exciting time at Northwood 

After learning of the decision, admitted students and families were invited to a virtual revisit day. Miller said, “the admissions office is looking forward to hosting our virtual revisit days for accepted students and their families on Tuesday, March 23rd and Thursday March 25th. Normally students and families are invited to attend in person on campus shadowing a current student throughout their day. This gave students a better feel for the Northwood experience.  

Similar to all aspects of our lives since the pandemic struck a year ago, revisit days and other admissions events have gone virtual. Potential future Huskies will get to know Northwood through Zoom and Teams calls and virtual campus tours. We wish these prospective students the best of luck with this important decision and hope to see them on campus in the fall. 

Junior Hockey Team to be Founding Member of New League 

Recently, after more than a year in the making, six leading men’s preparatory hockey-playing institutions announced the establishment of the Prep Hockey Conference (PHC). This league is set to begin play in the 2021-2022 season. In addition to Northwood School, teams involved are Culver Academies (Culver, IN), Mount St. Charles Academy (Woonsocket, RI), Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Faribault, MN), South Kent School (Kent, CT), and St. Andrew’s College (Aurora, Ontario Canada).  

This league compromises institutions rich in history and tradition with a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence. All these teams are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the PHC, focusing on improving the overall student-athlete experience while building rivalries through healthy competition.  

Chadd Cassidy, the head coach of Northwood’s Junior Team says, “Northwood is humbled and excited to be part of the Prep Hockey Conference. It provides an opportunity for our school and players to compete at the highest level against like-minded programs. We are looking forward to a strong partnership with all our league members.”  

The PHC is committed to providing the best possible hockey experience for its players, fans, and stakeholders. Brendan Merriman ‘21 of the boys hockey team said, “It’s really exciting and a lot of guys are looking forward to the opportunity to play in a highly competitive conference with some of the best teams in the country.” The group plans to establish itself as the premiere prep hockey league in North America by setting the highest standards for competitiveness and maintaining a level of the institutional investment that demonstrates a significant commitment to its hockey programs and facilities.  

One Year Ago Today: The Day That Everything Changed 

Students embraced and said their goodbyes on March 12, 2020 as school closed during the coronavirus pandemic. (File photo)

One year ago today, students were hurried into the auditorium after dinner for a hastily called school meeting that would change their lives

Earlier that day, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. There were only approximately 700 cases in the United States at the time, but public health experts were predicting the virus would spread exponentially in the coming weeks and months. Colleges and universities everywhere were sending students home, the NBA shut down that day, and there were widespread concerns that air travel would soon be suspended, which would have left dozens of international students stranded in Lake Placid. At that school meeting, Assistant Head of School Mr. John Spear told students that the school was sending them home and closing campus.   

In an email to the community sent while students were in the meeting, Head of School Mr. Mike Maher wrote, “I have consulted with Northwood School trustees and school leaders, as well as experts in public health, and colleagues at other boarding and college institutions. I have concluded, after careful analysis, that Northwood School will cease all on-campus programming and transition all instruction online as of today, March 11, 2020. Tomorrow we will prepare students for online learning and assist them with their travel arrangements. Student departures may begin as early as 2:00 pm.” 

It was the first time since World War II that school was shut down during the school year, and the students’ mood in the room ranged from celebration to shockA day earlier, student-athletes were disappointed when all athletic travel was canceled, effectively ending the Junior Hockey Team’s state championship run and canceling the soccer team’s trip to Las Vegas and the most important showcase of the season 

Northwood shared the news of the closure on social media on March 12, 2020.

The school hoped to re-open at the end of the school year, and Maher concluded his email on an optimistic note: We plan to resume on-campus instruction and other programming on Monday, April 27, which will leave four weeks for classes, AP exams, and other year-end activities, including commencement and LEAP. Of course, resuming on-campus programming at that time depends on the status of the coronavirus. We will monitor the situation closely and communicate regularly with everyone in the Northwood community.” Of course, school remained closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year with graduation canceled.  

Ella Fesette ‘22 was a sophomore at the time and recalled that day. A bunch of us were just hanging out in the living room and we heard a teacher walk by who mentioned something about leaving campus, and then that night we had a meeting about going home. I was so upset to leave because I had a feeling we weren’t coming back, and I was going to miss all my friends and especially springtime at NorthwoodAlso, not being able to say goodbye to the seniors I wouldn’t see again.”  

Senior at the time Madison Novotny ‘20 said, I was in the basement of Berg when I heard the news. It all happened so quickly. I was stressed.”  

Jazzy Valenzuela ‘21 was a junior on that day and recalled, “When we found out that we had to get sent home I was in the living room and then we were called into the auditorium for a meeting to talk about it. I was so confused and felt anxious because I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t realize a year later we’d still have corona, so I guess in the moment I was just expecting to go home for only two weeks.”  

Getting sent home was a shock to all the students. A lot of emotions were triggered from being stressed and anxious to being sad that the year with friends had to be cut short so unexpectedly. It’s safe to say that it was for sure a year they will never forget, no matter how badly some would like to.  

Today is Ring The Bell for Northwood!

March 4, 2021, is Northwood’s fifth annual giving day called  Ring the Bell for Northwood. Students around campus are wearing their purple Ring the Bell t-shirts to class and alumni and families around the world are showing their Northwood pride by making gifts to the Northwood Fund. Students representing Peaks have submitted entries into the annual video competition and the winner will be announced .

Every March, our Northwood family around the world — alumni, students, parents, friends, neighbors, faculty, and staff — come together for Ring the Bell, a 24-hour online fundraising event. Ring the Bell supports the Northwood people and programs that are important to achieving the school’s mission of fostering growth in young people so that they may engage their world and lead lives of consequence.

Excitement for Ring the Bell for Northwood has been building as Huskies everywhere have watched daily videos leading up to the event.

The annual fundraising effort, organized by Northwood’s Advancement Office, uses an online platform to communicate with alumni, parents, and friends of Northwood and inspire their support. The primary goal of Ring the Bell 2021 is to celebrate our school and support the people and programs we all care about most. We hope to reach 250 donors today and surpass the goals of previous years — join us and Ring the Bell for Northwood!

Seniors Earn New Privileges 

Image source: Northwood School

On Friday, senior privileges for the class of 2021 were announced at school meeting. This is exciting news for seniors because they have not been able to have any yet this year.  

Privileges include not having to check-in at 9:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, allowing their dorm room door to remain closed during study hall, and a favorite of seniors: being able to go to the Innovation Hub for study hall in town.   

Rachel Hinkley ‘20 says, I really like going to the Hub for study hall because it gives people the chance to have a quiet space to study and get away from the dorm while also being able to go into town safely for the night.” On Fridays and Sundays, seniors can buy takeout dinner and bring it to the Hub to enjoy a nice dinner with friends and then stay right there for study hall.  

In a message to the senior class, Mr. John Spear said: 

Four Huskies Earn Women in Tech Honors

Northwood NCWIT honorees, from left to right: Angie Castillo ’21, Kate Hagness ’21, Nora Dawood ’23, and Anja Martin ’22.

Four Northwood female students recently won recognition for their computing-related achievements. This is the third straight year Northwood’s girls have received such recognition. Fourteen girls have been honored in the past three years. 

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) honors 9th-12th grade students who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary for their computing-related achievements and interests and encourages them to pursue their passions. Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, as demonstrated by their computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access, and plans for post-secondary education. 

The multi-tiered award structure includes Winner, Honorable Mention, Rising Star, and Certificate of Distinction designations at National and Regional Affiliate levels, serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and all U.S. overseas military bases. Regional Affiliate Award programs are hosted in 79 locations nationwide by NCWIT Alliance member organizations—a powerful, national network of universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations working to increase the influence and meaningful participation of girls and women from every community. 

The Northwood School winners at the regional affiliate award level include: 

  • Anja Martin ‘22 – Winner 
  • Angie Castillo ’21 – Honorable Mention 
  • Nora Dawood ’23 – Honorable Mention 
  • Kate Hagness ’21 – Rising Star 

Congratulations to the amazing young women for this accomplishment as well as to their teacher, Mr. Jeff Martin, robotics team coach and chair of Innovation, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship at Northwood. 

Multicultural Students Club Focuses on Black History

MSC 2020-21

Some of the members of the MSC from left to right: Julia Turner ’23, Christie-Ann Nelson ’23, Iva-Amanda Nelson ’23, Jazlyn LLuberes ’23, Gian Franco Rodriguez ’21, Mariema Thioubou ’23, Abby Sinclair ’23, Angie Castillo ’21, Jaden Klebba ’21, Kendin Basden ’22, Jazzy Valenzuela ’21, Addie Castillo ’21 (Photo provided).

The Multicultural Student Club at Northwood serves as a forum for communication amongst students from diverse backgrounds and the entire Northwood community. Through discussions and guest speakers, the Multicultural Student Club hopes to foster a school community where students learn from their differences and celebrate cultural diversity, according to the club’s description on Northwood’s web site. Jasmin Valenzuela ‘21, one of the club’s leaders, spoke with The Mirror about MSC and what the club does. “Our group is made up of much of the people of color on campus. We start off the year with discussions on issues we see in the world. Then we go on to talk about changes we would like to see within our community. In turn, we discuss events and other ways to promote our diversity and the issues we would like to see change in,” she saidRight now, for Black History Month, we are presenting on prominent Black events, people, and places that cultivate history,” she added 

The Multicultural Student Club is such an important addition to Northwood these past few years because Northwood has become such a diverse community recently. The MSC gives everyone from different backgrounds a chance to voice their opinion and experiences with others. Many members find MSC a safe space for themselves and others.  

The month of February is Black History Month, and MSC held series of school meeting presentations that illuminated aspects of Black history that most members of the community didn’t know aboutMSC leaders Amanda Nelson, ‘23, and Jazlyn Lluberes ‘23, shared insight on what the club hoped to do throughout Black History Month. “The Multicultural Students Club emphasizes that Black History is a part of American History that should be embraced, and not looked upon with disdain,” they said. “As we are introducing less commonly known important black figures and events in history each week at our school meetings, we hope to educate the student body that the ‘patriotic’ history learned in classes and in books have excluded an important part of history that aided in America’s development. These people and events deserve to be known as their history and accomplishments are just as important,” they added.

Teachers Share Vaccination Experiences

Many Northwood faculty and staff are getting vaccinated. As a matter of fact, nearly 80% of Northwood School employees have received or are scheduled to receive their first dose. Nearly 30% have received their second dose of the shotThese numbers are encouraging, considering less than 14% of the US population has received at least one dose.   

The Mirror caught up with five faculty and staff members to ask about their experience getting vaccinated:  

Mr. Tony Miller said, I reacted to the first dose like a normal flu shotmeaning just my arm was sore. The second dose made me feel like I had a severe case of the flu, but I felt a sense of relief afterward. We’ve all been living in fear of getting sick. It was the first time I felt any sense of relief or comfort in a year.” (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)


“Mr. John Spear said “I had no reaction to the first dose, which I was lucky enough to receive the week before students arrived back to school in January. The second dose really knocked me down for a full day, but it was worth it. I’m so excited that so many of my colleagues are able to get the vaccine.” (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)


Ms. Katie Gilligan said, “I feel really, really lucky to be fully vaccinated this early in the year, though the second vaccine definitely kicked my butt. I woke up with just a sore arm and thought that would be the worst of it, but then around 11:00am I hit the couch hard and didn’t move for at least 6 hours. Fever, body aches, headache, stomachache — I had every symptom in the book. But the day after I was totally fine! Again, I feel super lucky and it was totally worth the 12 hours of not feeling good.” (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)


Ms. Noel Carmichael said “I feel much more comfortable about the vaccine. There’s a lot we don’t know, and a lot we are assuming about how much it will protect us and for how long and from which strains. I’m still going to be cautious about wearing a mask and being careful about where I go. For instance, during spring break, I plan to go see my mother and she will also be fully vaccinated and so it’s exciting and a huge deal for my family. We haven’t seen my mom in over a year, so that one thing alone is huge in terms of our quality of life.” (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)


Ms. Tara Wright  said, “I’m very fortunate to have been able to get both vaccines. I had very little reactions which I was also very fortunate, but I still feel like I don’t have a total sense of security because my kids are not vaccinated, and my husband is only partially vaccinated, so I’m continuing to do things as I was prior to being vaccinated.” (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)


It’s Here: First COVID-19 Case at Northwood 

After more than 2,000 negative COVID tests and six months into the 2020-21 school year without a positive casea member of the Northwood community has COVID-19Yesterday a day-student in the Snowsports cohort tested positive SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Assistant Head of School, Mr. John Spear, notified the school community in an email this morning:  

This is the first positive case of a student or employee while school was in session and the student was attending in-person classes. The school is aware of more than twenty positive cases among students and staff that have occurred during school breaks and were resolved before the student returned to school or the employee returned to work.

Life at Northwood has proceeded as normal today for all students except those within the Snowsports cohort. Mackenzie Hull, a senior in the Girls Hockey cohort said, “It’s a little concerning, but I know that the school and the health board are taking the right precautions to keep studentsafe.”  

One of the students in quarantine also gave us insight on how they’re feeling. “Going into quarantine feels strange but I figured it would happen to some people at school eventually,” they saidI’m at least happy that I’m able to go home for a few days and just have a mental reset before coming back to school, they added. The Mirror will not use the names of students who test positive or are required to quarantine out of concern for student privacy.

The school is assisting the Essex County Health Department with contact tracing and expects the precautionary quarantine to be lifted within a few days. While having a positive case in the school community is unsettlingstudents are all working together to protect our pack” and continue keeping our community safe.  

NY State Finally Allows Hockey Games 

Northwood hockey players received good news on January 31st: Essex County will allow high-risk sports, including ice hockey, to play. Mr. Gino Riffle, Athletic Director and Junior Team assistant coach, sent a mass email with the confirmation stating, “The county we are in, Essex County, released information Friday that they will allow high-risk sports to begin at the youth level on February 1st.”  

Members of the 2019-20 Northwood Girls’ Hockey team celebrate at the 2020 New York State Championships (Photo: Kara Wentzel ’22)

The news has Northwood hockey players ecstaticBeneath all the excitement many of us had questions about the fine print. Governor Cuomo stated that in order to be able to train and play games, county health departments must first approve it and provide guidelines, which came from Essex County late last weekMr. Riffle’s message indicated that the school has more work to do before games could be scheduled. “The countyhas included procedures, protocols and stipulations about playing these high-risk sports. We are working through the document and with Essex County officials to figure out what we can and cannot do based upon the guidance. We will have another update this week as we gain more clarity. 

Hockey players are left wondering what the protocols will be. We do not yet know, but we assume they pertain to spectators coming to watch and whether masks will have to be worn while playing or not. Questions remain about how it will work if Northwood wants to play teams in other counties, considering there are no teams to play in Essex County. On top of that, Husky hockey players are curious to see how thnew UK strand of COVID-19 will affect us, since it has made its way into the area.  

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