Sabattus students will take classroom lessons to a new height.

SABATTUS – Eighth-graders here will tussle with Tumbledown Mountain before May ends.

“They’re very enthusiastic about going to the mountain and hiking it,” said Amy Bilodeau, an eighth-grade math and science teacher.

On May 29, about 65 eighth-graders will journey to Weld where they will gaze upwards at a 3,068-foot mountain.

They will consult their compasses, getting their bearings before beginning the Brook Trail.

The hike will serve as the culminating activity for the first year of an interdisciplinary unit known as “Tumbledown Trek.” At the beginning of the school year, teachers had to come up with assessment goals, Bilodeau said.

“We wanted to make it fun and engage the kids as much as we possibly could,” she said. They found students lacking in social skills, Bilodeau said. So they decided to impress upon the students the ideas of teamwork, negotiation, communication and decision-making.

Throughout the year, students worked on the four goals with their teachers. “It’s become a huge project that kids and teachers are really enjoying,” Bilodeau said.

As they negotiate nature, the students will apply to the outdoors the four social skills. For example, if somebody cannot make it up the mountain, students will have to negotiate among themselves, hammer out an agreement and act on a decision that will keep everybody safe.

“Is everybody going to turn around?” Bilodeau asked. “Is everybody going to slow down their pace? What are they going to do in a situation like that?”

In the interests of sparking positive communication, the students have penned hiking songs such as “I Like Teamwork and I Cannot Lie” to spur each other onto the summit.

“They’re pretty creative,” Bilodeau said.

The students will make their own GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) for an activity that Bilodeau said can build self-esteem and confidence.

And they may catch hiking fever after breathing in the beauty of Tumbledown.

“It’s very peaceful,” Bilodeau said of the summit. “It’s very quiet. You can see for miles and miles.”

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