When head groundskeeper Nathan Miner looks back over the athletic fields he tends at Champlain Valley Union High School, he’s sees a big part of his family’s history.
The fields where CVU students now run, play, and practice sports were once part of his grandparents’ farm.
Hector and Mildred Aube’s farmhours and fields were across Pond Road from the school on the east side, but a large part of their farm was on the west side of the road, north of the school. When the school opened in 1964, the athletic fields were still part of the Aubes’ farm. Over time, the fields were sold in increments as the school grew larger and the farm grew smaller.
Miner remembers spending the night at his grandmother’s farm with his cousin Todd Boutin, who is one of 47 cousins on his mother’s side.
Miner is one of six siblings who graduated from CVU. His oldest sister Kitty Laclair was in the second graduating class to attend all four years at the school and his brother-in-law Norris Laclair was in the first, graduating in 1968.
Their grandfather Hector drove the high school bus for CVU during the 1970s and 80s.
“In my early 20s, if someone would have told me I’d be back here working, I would have laughed at them,” Nathan Miner said. “At the time, I couldn’t wait to get out of here.”
But now, he said, he’s very happy to be working on fields that his family once farmed, although the land has changed a bit.
“A lot of earth was moved for the athletic fields.” said Miner. “There was a lot of clay and a lot of springs. My favorite spot the junior parking lot to look back over and think about my father and uncles who used to help on the farm and cut the hay.”
Now, as he looks out from that spot, he’s looking over 17 acres that his mother Jean Miner helped her mother Mildred sell to the school system after Hector died.
He’s looking over what were once sloping fields of hay but now are seven athletic fields where CVU students practice and compete in football, softball, baseball, field hockey, track, cross country, and ultimate frisbee.
Some of his older siblings were in the first classes at CVU. An uncle on his father’s side, Ivan “Peanut” Garen, helped build the high school.
Miner had film of the building of the school, including his uncle riding a crane ball back down from the roof. (OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would not have liked that, he points out.) He was able to put together a short presentation from the film to give to the 50th graduating class in 2015.
Now, Nathan Miner lives where he grew up.
“I’m back where I’m from on a dead end road at the top of a hill on my father’s farm,” he said. “And that’s the way I like it.”