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Franklin Elementary principal taps into a sweet way to learn

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    Franklin Elementary School Principal Roger Havens demonstrates to students how to tap a maple tree, the first step in the maple sugaring process, Monday afternoon.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Sap collects in a metal bucket on the grounds of Wadsworth's Franklin Elementary School on Monday morning in preparation for the schools real maple syrup breakfast Saturday, March 23.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Second-grade students at Wadsworth's Franklin Elementary School learn about collecting sap to make maple syrup with Principal Roger Havens on Monday afternoon at the school.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    Students in Katie Titus' second-grade class sample maple sap fresh from the tree following a demonstration on the maple sugaring process from Principal Roger Havens on Monday.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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WADSWORTH — A group of Franklin Elementary School students got an up-close look at collecting sap and the way to make pure maple syrup Monday.

Principal Roger Havens told the second graders about the maple sugaring process as he and fourth-grade assistants Nicholas Pike and Landon Skidmore tapped a maple tree on the school’s grounds.

Havens said the project is a lead-up to the school’s annual real maple syrup breakfast fundraiser, scheduled for Saturday, March 23.

“Maple trees are the best trees to make syrup from,” Havens said to the students. “You can actually make syrup from any tree, except an evergreen tree.”

“A maple is much sweeter, and it has more sugar in it,” he said.

Second-grade teacher Katie Titus said there are multiple benefits to students getting to participate in out-of-the-classroom projects.

“For them to see that these trees and nature provide certain things for us,” she said Monday.

Havens used a hand drill to drill a hole in the tree, explaining to students that it would not hurt or kill the tree.

“I just drilled one little hole in the side of the tree, and it is just catching the sap that is going past the hole,” he said. “I am not taking much of it.”

Havens told students that when a tree loses its leaves in the fall, tree sap is stored underground in the tree’s root system for the winter.

“Now that the days are getting longer and it is getting warmer, that juice down there, it sends a signal down there (to the roots) and says send that juice back up into the tree,” he said.

Havens said the sap goes out to all the tree’s branches and it eventually buds.

Havens said Nicholas and Landon volunteered to collect the sap each morning before school during the project. Sap buckets were full Monday, a result of temperatures rising and falling throughout the weekend.

“If it gets down to 30 degrees tonight, it will stop dripping, if it gets up to 40 degrees tomorrow, it will start dripping again,” he said. “It likes that freezing at night, thawing during the day.”

It takes about 10, five-gallon containers to make one gallon of pure maple syrup, Havens said.

“What you do is, you take this sugary water and you boil away all the water and what stays behind is syrup,” Havens said. “That is all you have to do, there is no recipe.”

Havens, who learned the craft from his grandparents while growing up in Wayne County, has been tapping trees on the grounds of Franklin Elementary since before the school was built on Takacs Drive in 2000. He started the maple syrup breakfast tradition back at Franklin’s old location on Chestnut Street.

The real maple syrup breakfast will be 8-10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 23, at Franklin Elementary School, 200 Takacs Drive, Wadsworth. Breakfast includes French toast, sausage, fresh fruit and a beverage. Presale breakfast tickets cost $6.50 for adults and

$6 for youth. Tickets at the door will cost $7 for adults and $5.50 for youth.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (330) 335-1470.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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