Marathon County first graders tap maple trees - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon County first graders tap maple trees

HAMBURG (WAOW) - Some young students in central Wisconsin are keeping a close eye on maple tree taps.

First graders at Maple Grove Elementary in Hamburg are harvesting the sweet sap as part of their school work.

Saturday, the school officially kicked off their maple syrup month with a ceremonial tree tap. The children have noticed the slow start to this maple syrup season.

"It needs to warm up so it can unfreeze," said Jayden Henrichs, a first grader.

For this charter school, maple syrup production slides in right next to reading and writing as a regular part of the school day.

"Maple syrup, truthfully, has been traditional at this school for over 30 years," said Russell Nolands, a Maple Grove teacher.

School board members say the children love going out in the woods as part of a class.

"They actually get to choose their tree, drill a hole, hammer in the tap and hang their bag, and then each day they have to go out and check their bag," said Kelly Trojanowski, a parent and school board member.

Hands-on learning is matched with classroom work. Students are taught about the history of maple syrup, its chemistry and the math behind it.

With several Maple Grove families in the syrup business, the school's teachings can come in handy.

"[The children] know how much work goes into it, and we do make them help at home," Trojanowski said.

Parents say that extra help has been necessary this winter.

"The snowpack in the woods is still very deep so it makes it a challenge and a real workout to get through the woods to tap those trees," said Trojanowski.

Teachers say Saturday's tree tapping ceremony was a statement as well as a celebration for the students.

"They feel quite proud of themselves when they're done, and they've got this jar of nice, light golden syrup that they get to give to Mom or Grandma for Mother's Day."

Along with the tree tap ceremony, Maple Grove also hosted a pancake breakfast, naturally, and raffled off prizes.

Board members say they're hoping to raise $5,000 for school funding.
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