Friday, June 7, 2019

Raymond Elementary School students get a new view on their town

Third-grad students use their maps to identify land features
By Briana Bizier

For Raymond Elementary School third graders, the best way to study local history and map-making is to get a bird’s eye view. This past Friday, both of Raymond’s third grade classes, who have been studying the history of the town of Raymond while making their own maps, had the opportunity to hike Rattlesnake Mountain. Joined by several parents, this field trip was the perfect chance for both the children and the adults to get a new outlook on their home town.

When the school bus parked at the Bri-Mar trailhead off Route 85 on Friday morning, May 31, the cheerful third graders were sorted into groups, assigned to parent chaperones, and told to stick with their group.

The children took to the trail like a herd of enthusiastic mountain goats. This journalist soon discovered that the hardest part of the hike was keeping up with my assigned third graders as they leapt over rocks and ran up the mountain.

Rattlesnake Mountain, at just over one thousand feet, is a healthy climb. The trail is 2.5 miles out-and-back, and there are several fallen trees and steep pitches to navigate. These sections slowed down a few of the hikers, children and chaperones alike.
I think I’m going to die before I get there,” one tired hiker sighed at the foot of a particularly steep incline.

Happily, a few water breaks restored everyone’s spirits and allowed the chaperones to re-collect their groups. The trail evens out toward the top of the mountain and, as the trees cleared, we caught a few
glimpses of the serpentine, glittering surface of Crescent Lake.

What lake do you think that is?” I asked a few of the hikers.

Um, Jordan Bay?” one guessed.

Casco Bay?” another offered.

I suggested perhaps we should check their maps at the top of the mountain.

Once we reached Rattlesnake Mountain’s beautiful lookout, a wide, flat section of glacially polished granite just below the summit, the third-grade classes split into two groups. One group sat down to examine the colorful, student-made maps of Raymond that teacher Ms. Begin carried up the mountain, while the other group ran further up the trail, hoping to find another viewpoint. After a few quick exercises, the groups traded places so that each child had the opportunity to compare a hand-drawn map with the view before them.

Now, how do we hold a map?” Ms. Begin asked the assembled third graders.

After a few guesses, such as “right side up,” we determined that maps should be aligned with a compass. Ms. Begin used her phone’s compass to determine which direction was north (directly behind us). After a few shrieked interruptions when students spotted a tick, or a black fly, or a piece of dirt that might have looked a bit like a black fly, the third graders settled down to read their maps.
So, what lake is that?” Ms. Begin asked, pointing toward the nearest lake. children consulted their maps.

Rattlesnake Lake!” someone called.

And what do we call that lake now?” Ms. Begin continued.

The children answered: “Crescent!”

Using their maps, the collection of third graders was able to identify the lakes and land features spread before them, including Raymond Pond, Panther Pond, Betty’s Neck on Panther Pond, and the distant stretch of Raymond Cape in Sebago Lake. Then, with several reminders to tie loose shoelaces
and not to run over the steep, leaf-strewn trail, we headed back down the mountain and toward the waiting bus.

What did you think of the field trip?” I asked my group of hikers.

Loved it!” said Sage Bizier, my RES insider.

Yeah,” agreed her classmate Kaitlin Skillings. “That was the most awesome field trip ever!”

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