Finding the way. Students of the Sacred Heart School in Bennington play a game using arrows to find special areas on a large map of Vermont. The map, which
Finding the way. Students of the Sacred Heart School in Bennington play a game using arrows to find special areas on a large map of Vermont. The map, which the Vermont Geographic Alliance loaned to the school for two days, got the students very excited about the area they live in. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)

BENNINGTON -- Students at the Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales School in Bennington had a unique opportunity early this week: To interact with their home state like never before.

On Monday and Tuesday, Sacred Heart students learned about Vermont's geography on a gigantic floor map. The traveling map was produced by the Vermont Geographic Alliance.

According the VGA's website, schools pay $20 per day that they have the map, then must transport it to the next school on the list. Teacher Patty Dailey, who teaches geography and religion at Sacred Heart, said retired North Bennington Graded School teacher Jill Fortney had reached out to Sacred Heart to see if they were interested in hosting the map.

As with any school faced with the possibility of possessing a giant map of Vermont, they were delighted to.

"The kids are having so much fun," said Dailey, "It's like the big elephant in the living room, except everyone wants to use it!"

Dailey said that while she typically teaches older students, she's worked to find opportunities for students of all ages to take advantage of the map.

She's asked students to find routes from Bennington to other major Vermont destinations, such as Burlington and Brattleboro, and has had them find on the map places they have vacationed to.

On Tuesday, about an hour before the map was scheduled to begin the next phase of its journey, Dailey had a group of students on it, demonstrating their geographic know-how.


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Students were asked to identify tributaries, mountain ranges, large cities, vacation spots, borders with other states, and wildlife refuges on the map.

The map was designed with classroom teachers in mind, and comes with a case of suggested lesson plans and activities, designed by a group of teachers at VGA.

The map was designed by cartographer Bob Gagliuso of Northern Graphic Design and Publishing in Hinesburg, who designed the map for no charge. The map was printed at Offset House/Catamount Color in Essex.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB