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Aurora students green up 17 miles of Trail Around Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Aurora students on May 7 continued a longstanding school tradition. Students, parents, one grandparent, teachers and alumni gathered early in the morning, with hiking provisions and Green Up bags. Throughout the day, the group hiked the Trail Around Middlebury, filling bags with trash they found along the trail. Director and co-founder Susan Vigne estimated this was the 13th year of the tradition.
Each year, students get to know different sections of the trail better, while discovering hidden dumping sites along the trail. At one section, students found a half dozen old tires and rusting scrap metal. Each year, they are hosted with refreshments at the halfway mark by the Caliandro and Drexel family, an Aurora alumni family. Prior to the hike, students worked to obtain donations or pledges for miles walked or bags of trash collected, contributing to Aurora School’s scholarship and field trip funds. 
Over celebratory ice cream cake at the end of the long day of hiking and greening up, Vigne said, “I’m proud of the eight students this year who completed all 17 miles.” The students included third-grader Oscar, fifth-graders Ronen Silberman and Melody Berenbaum, sixth-graders Henry Swan and Celia Taylor, and graduates Celeste Berenbaum, Nico Brayton and Aidan Taylor. 
After finishing the entire 17-mile loop, first-time finisher Swan proudly exclaimed, “I can do it all again right now!” Taylor, who has hiked portions of the TAM since she was very young, finished the whole hike for the first time this year. When asked how she felt physically, she said, “Exhausted.” When asked how she felt mentally, her answer was “proud.” 
Art Berenbaum, father of Melody and Celeste, has joined Aurora’s TAM Trek since both of his girls were very young. When asked what he thought of the tradition and hiking with his family, he remarked, “It’s fabulous — a nice bonding time.” Aurora teacher Dan Sobel agreed and remembered when Melody was so young that she needed to be carried early on in the hike. Now, she is a consistent finisher along with her sister. The girls’ mother, Pam, hikes portions and provides support at checkpoints along the way.
As weary but satisfied hikers began to head home, Vigne clapped mud from her well-worn sneakers and reminisced, “After more than a decade of greening up the TAM, while it’s sad to still see trash, it’s really satisfying to see my students do their part to help keep the community beautiful.”
Editor’s note: This piece was submitted by Elaine Anderson.

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