By Susan Wilderman, Faculty Member
The warm winter Sun
Snow crunches, Drill sounds, sap drips,
Marks the start of spring
Maple Sugaring at JRHS is a unique tool used to develop student skills, teamwork, and appreciation of Creation. Since the start of the program in the late 1990’s, the project has always involved the hard work of students and teachers. This collaboration towards a common goal provides a fertile ground for student development outside the typical classroom setting.
Students are part of the whole process from interacting with our generous landowners, to tapping, collecting, boiling, bottling, and selling the finished pure maple syrup! Each phase of the project includes opportunity to grow and mature in responsibility. They learn to run the evaporator keeping the fire going strong and how to carefully pay attention to all the critical levels within the evaporator. This is essential to having a safe and productive Sugaring season. As one student told me “it’s like learning to play an instrument with great skill”. In many ways they are right, you learn how it should sound, look, and even smell. This produces valuable skills in the area of observation and attention to detail.
This year a large lesson was in waiting. The typical season begins at the end of February and runs 4-6 weeks. This year the season was a bit delayed in starting till mid-March. Learning to deal and cope with disappointment is a valuable life lesson. On the flip side, once the days started to warm above and the night drop below freezing the season turned on and the kids were ready! With enthusiasm they responded to the provision of sap and have worked diligently to balance their studies and maple syrup producing.
When I consider the value of Maple sugaring, I have come to see that is not about making Maple Syrup, but about the development of the whole student. We call our finished Maple Syrup “God’s Secret Delight”. As with any treasure it takes a dedicated pursuit to find and obtain. For me, the phrase “God’s Secret Delight” also causes me to stop and ponder how He will use the lessons learned through the process of sugaring in the lives of the students. For surely, they too are being refined into God’s Secret Delight!