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Letter: Sharon Academy Grooms Leaders

To the Editor:

Vermont’s population is aging. Our towns need young people with fresh eyes and energy who can solve problems, create businesses and run meetings. Without it, the foundation of our democracy and communities is threatened.

One little school, The Sharon Academy, is quietly preparing our young people to be Vermont’s future community leaders and innovators. TSA provides the space, and creates a culture, where students are encouraged to take healthy risks. As a result, TSA is a place where you will find student leadership thriving: student-run electives, student-run theatre productions, and two student trustee positions on The Sharon Academy Board of Trustees.

One special student initiative is The Sharon Academy Sugaring Project, which began as a dream of two TSA freshmen, now seniors. They dreamt of a sustainable sugaring operation where the Vermont tradition of producing maple syrup could be shared. This spring, the dream will be fully realized when the first gallon of maple syrup from the Sugaring Project is bottled. With some outside-the-box thinking, the two boys raised $4,000 to purchase an evaporator and tapping supplies. They sold shares, and over the course of three years, each $100 investor will receive two gallons of maple syrup to pay back their investment. The two boys not only run the sugaring operation, but also lead an elective to teach students the tradition of maple syrup production. They even have a succession plan for their dream to continue after they graduate this year.

The Sharon Academy is a valuable and much-needed educational model. Our communities and state must support it and schools like it, because Vermont needs innovators and people who solve problems. As a TSA alumna and current board member, I am proud to say TSA is preparing its students to do just that.

The Sharon Academy encourages you to stop by for a visit — preferably on Tuesday — so you can see our student-run, all school meeting in action!

Heidi Conner