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Over Three Fourths of Fort Fairfield Students Do Not Participate in Harvest


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, October 26, 2016


   Fort Fairfield High School has been taking one week off for harvest break for the past decade or so.  Harvest break is a remnant tradition from bygone days where schools used to let out for a month to provide student laborers for farmers who primarily harvested their potatoes by hand.  Modern harvesting techniques, however, have drastically reduced the number of people needed to harvest potatoes and thus cut down on the number of students needed to fill farm labor positions.

   However, traditions die hard and harvest break still continues despite the fact that over 75 percent of students do not work for either a farmer, or any other job during the week they have off.

   According to a poll of 175 FFHS students conducted by principal, John Kaleta only 37 students, or 21.1%, claimed to have worked for a farmer during harvest.  An additional 39 students claimed to work indirectly for a farmer during harvest, for example by babysitting for a farmer or harvest worker.

   Thirty-three students claimed to be working “non-harvest” related jobs such as convenience or grocery store positions, while 81.3% - or 143 students—claimed to not have any work at all.

   This totals up to around 20 percent of students working the harvest break to actually bring potatoes out of the field.

  “Is harvest a worthwhile endeavor for us?  I think we got it right,” said Mr. Kaleta.  “We’ve got one week off, it’s pretty much the sweet spot and we’re giving a certain percentage of the kids another five days.  It seems like that’s enough.”  

   “In my former experience, anything twenty and above is legit,” said MSAD #20 Superintendent, Tim Doak.  “When you get down to the 15s and the 12s, that’s when you’ve got to stop and think about is it really worth what we’re doing.”