Their feet dangling from a bench inside the Thetford Academy Sugar Shack, six second-graders from Bradford Elementary School listened to high school students explain how maple syrup is graded, while a wood fire sent scribbles of smoke and the fragrance of boiling sap across the school grounds one afternoon last week.

Nearby, another group watched wide-eyed as sophomore Rebecca Wells poured syrup over cookie sheets of snow, then distributed samples on wooden skewers into their mittened hands. A third group tromped around in the sugarbush, boot prints in contrasting sizes making patterns beneath the maples.

“Big kids teaching little kids is the idea,” explained Scott Ellis, outdoor program coordinator for Thetford Academy. “One of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge is to teach someone

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