Outdoor education

Fern Hill - sounds like a fairy storybook. And, ambling along a lovely trail through the woods with half a dozen Fern Hill School kids, a white-throated sparrow serenading us, it wouldn't be surprising to see a pixie step out from behind a maple tree.

Sitting on a log, Conner, seven, in fact looks a little pixie-ish. He tells me that, in May, when Prince Andrew came by to officially open the trail, he presented him with a small jar of maple syrup tapped from the school's own trees. "It's a bit watery," he warned the Queen's son, "But it's our first attempt."

The superb trail - which will be the keystone of the school's outdoor education program-was the idea of retired science teacher Diana Berryman. Incredibly, the woods and the school are concealed behind a hill just a few hundred metres from the busy Queen Elizabeth Way, in Burlington, Ontario.

Elise, 13, who recently moved east with her parents from Vancouver, says she saw her first trillium on the trail when her English class went for a walk on the wild side this spring. "It was very pretty."

"We showed the prince a shagbark hickory," announces Alex, 10. "We did a presentation and thought up a speech. I was a bit nervous, but it was very exciting."

—Frank Jones
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