Maple Street welcomes 110 students, Class of 2027

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MANCHESTER — Maple Street School kicked off its 2018-19 school year on Tuesday, welcoming 110 students from kindergarten through eighth grade back through the front door with emphasis on nurturing a culture of respect and cooperation in its halls, classrooms and playgrounds.

Each class gathered outside the front door of the school — just a few days after its opening anniversary of Sept. 1, 1998 — and walked in with their teachers, starting with the kindergartners who will become the school's Class of 2027.

Head of school Fanning Hearon III said part of the school's mission statement — "Our culture of respect inspires confident learners" — stuck with him, and he headed out onto the Appalachian Trail over Labor Day weekend to think about just what that means.

What he learned from the thru-hikers he met, Hearon said, was that there's a community on the AT that makes it possible to hike 2200 miles through the woods, from new friends on the trail to "trail angels" and an active support network along its length. "Everyone helps out, no matter the day, the weather, the situation, because every hiker wants to support their friends on the trail," he said.

In short, he said, there's a culture of respect on the AT that promotes confidence among its hikers that they're going to achieve their goals, despite weather, difficult conditions, illness and blisters.

The same is true of Maple Street School, he said.

"This community and this pervasive atmosphere of respect for one another inspires all of us," Hearon said. "And thanks to that culture of respect we all achieve more and individually. I think that by participating in such a supportive academic community, we all grow more confident and we are all willing to take more risks. Isn't that what being a student is all about? Trying really hard, taking risks, and growing more confident with the material each step of the way."

Amy Panitz, who over the summer succeeded Matt Samuelson as chair of the school's board of trustees, encouraged students to do their best, to be curious and ask questions, to ask questions when they don't understand, and to be kind to each other.

She promised students "The adults in this building will get to know you, they will love you, and they will help you when the going gets rough."

Reach Journal editor Greg Sukiennik at gsukiennik@manchesterjournal.com or at 802-490-6000.

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