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Norwich University Students Walk to School

— A group of Norwich University cadets began a 50 mile march yesterday from Norwich, where the school was founded nearly 200 years ago, back to the campus in Northfield.

“People honk, they come out of their houses and cheer,” Katherine Proffitt, a junior from Virginia. “One year the reverend of the church made us all burgers. They clap for us. It’s pretty amazing.” Upon arriving at The Sharon Academy, where they spent last night in the gymnasium, the cadets rested in a circle, stretching while the vans pulled in with their rucksacks and overnight bags. Forming a straight line to the gym doors, they tossed the bags to one another, unloading the vans and unlacing their shoes while waiting in line.

The students were surprisingly cheery after marching for 16 miles, many for the first time, in uniform and gear.

“We are missing classes to do this,” said Ian Lynch, 21, one of the march’s organizers. “But the whole thing is a learning experience and a community experience.” This year 30 participants included two professors and two civilian students in addition to the military students. The march started in 2009 and has continued ever since.

“We are working with great kids. I am honored to be a part of their education,” said engineering professor Eugene Sevi. “They are sharp and energetic. I thought I was walking pretty fast, but there is something about being 20 years old.” Norwich University’s founder, Captain Alden Partridge, was known for taking students on walking excursions to use outdoor experience as an integral part of their education for physical challenge, recreation, practical knowledge and self-reliance.

The students arranged have professors accompany them to give lectures along the way. Yesterday, Professor Gary Lord gave conducted a history lesson before the march began at 9 a.m. and continued to point out landmarks along the way. A geology professor has been planned to will accompany them for the second day of the march.

A geology professor will accompany the marchers today, when participants are scheduled to march 20 miles to Vermont Technical School in Randolph Center.

The last leg of the march is to Norwich University’s athletics field, where they will present the university’s women’s rugby team with the game ball.

The march relies completely on donations and many are willing to give.

All the money raised from the $50 participation fees is donated to The Veteran’s Place.