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Freeport students, school staff simulate hiking Appalachian Trail

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Freeport students, school staff simulate hiking Appalachian Trail

FREEPORT — Students at the Mast Landing Middle School are getting outdoors this winter, hiking the equivalent of the Appalachian Trail.

As they record the time they spend doing winter activities – sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking – they are correlating their mileage to the Appalachian Trail. Then, each week, the students and staff record their distances, as if they had hiked along the trail from Georgia to Maine.

Anne-Marie Davee, the school health coordinator, said the students have now  "traveled" from Georgia to Virginia.

"With every state they pass through, the students learn about its history, population, capital and what it's like to live there," she said. "The students are learning, having fun, and are active even in the winter months."

Davee said the school works closely with the Let's Go program, a community-based initiative to promote healthy lifestyle choices for children in the greater Portland area. She said Mast Landing promotes the 5-2-1-0 program, which encourages students to eat five fruits every day, spend less than two  hours in front  of a screen a day, have one hour of physical activity every day and no sugar-sweetened beverages.

"Maine winters are what they are," she said. "It can be difficult to get people outside, but this Appalachian Trail adventure gets students excited about being active."

Davee said the goal is to "reach" Mt. Katahdin by April vacation. With 271 students, 13 classrooms and 40 staff members participating, she said they should easily succeed.

"I think this has been a fun activity for the entire school," she said. "To have everyone focused on one activity has been great. Just to get the students outside in the winter has been a plus. They are getting the message that activity can be fun in all seasons."

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net