ST. ALBANS CITY – Our students live in Vermont’s “Maple City,” St. Albans, and therefore it is entirely appropriate that they understand what their city’s designation means in a personal way.

Each year, children at St. Albans City School (SACS) have a chance to collect maple sap on school property, boil it down in the evaporator located in the sugar house next to the school cafeteria, and then taste the product. The conclusion of tasters is that genuine maple syrup beats the corn syrup variety emphatically.

Two groups of students at school are most associated with maple sugaring at SACS. There is the Team Triumph learning community, a fourth through sixth grade group, and there is the hands-on-practical-education (HOPE) classroom, which works with all ages of students at the school.

Collecting sap from trees on our property and in the cemetery. (Photo by Mitch Craib)

The two groups are fairly independent, usually tapping different sets of trees, and sometimes boiling sap in different locations.

Team Triumph uses maple sugaring as a learning community stewardship project and they find ways to bring writing and math experiences to this real-world activity.

HOPE engages students who thrive best at school when doing applied learning, and their teachers give them physical and academic experiences that make them feel successful and happy to be at school.

Both groups share their syrup with the whole school population, either on pancakes in the cafeteria or in sample cups for show-and-tell groups that visit the school’s sugar shack.

The sugaring season at SACS is usually just two- to three-weeks long each spring. This yearly event it is looked forward to by our population of students and staff who relish the taste or real maple syrup and who enjoy feeling connected with our local heritage.

Our school feels that it is a privilege to have the trees, evaporation equipment and the expertise of key staff members to make the annual maple season special.

Thank you to St. Albans for supporting this kind of learning experience for our children.

Tasting the maple syrup is often the best part. (Photo by Mitch Craib)