- The Oxford Academy
Something Sweet is Brewing over at Oxford Academy
Oxford Academy in Westbrook has been making maple syrup from the 40+ trees on campus for over ten years. To gain a better understanding of nature and sustainability, all students join in the process.
Sugaring began on campus in 2011 with one teacher, one tub and a vision. Now this tradition is a campus favorite. In 2014, a family donated the Sugar Shack, a dedicated space for maple sugaring and a favorite gathering space. When campus is open, children from Daisy Ingraham join in the fun and learn about the process from the Oxford students.
The process begins once the students return from February break when they start inspecting the trees and finding the best places to tap. Taping the trees allows students to learn new tools and techniques that are unlikely to be found in a traditional classroom setting. Once the buckets are full of sap the lengthy evaporation process begins. As the Sugar Shack fills with the smoky sweet smell of maple syrup, anticipation builds for the final product and celebration.
When asked what the students gain from the process, Jude Maragliano, Science Department Head and leader of the maple sugaring process had this to say,
“They gain an understanding of a natural resource and how humans interact with the environment. This is a sustainable practice so they gain an understanding of sustainable harvesting and managing trees”.
But that’s not all….
“After you bring the kids through the maple sugaring process, they’ll identify it as one of their favorite things to do because they're in the outdoors, and the Sugar Shack is a communal place to be.”
One student said, “After the sugaring season we have a pancake dinner with the amazing maple syrup we made that tastes like nothing else out there. And we get to have class in the Sugar Shack. That's one of the sweetest things about the sugaring season here at Oxford.