New course takes students out of the classroom and into nature

The Broadalbin-Perth High School's Adirondack Humanities class taught by Dan Simonds and Anthony Mucilli pose in photo along with local author Heidi Sprouse at the top of Kane Mountain on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

BROADALBIN — Broadalbin-Perth’s Adirondack Humanities class had an adventurous day as they hiked their way up Kane Mountain along with local author, Heidi Sprouse, on Wednesday.

The class is taught by Dan Simonds and Tony Mucilli. The class has recently read Sprouse’s novel, “Adirondack Sundown” and the novel’s settings take place throughout Fulton County and the Adirondacks. The class was able to meet with Sprouse, discuss the novel and visit a few of the locations that are in the novel.

The students first met Sprouse at Rockwood State Forest located on Route 29.

Sprouse and the students took a short walk on one of the paths in Rockwood State Forest.

The students and Sprouse then made their way to Kane Mountain located in Caroga Lake.

The cabin that local author, Heidi Sprouse plans to use as a location for one of her next books, is shown. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Everyone made it to the top of the 2.1 mile hike up Kane Mountain. Students even climbed the 2,180 foot fire tower to see the fantastic view of the Adirondacks and the lake. Students were also able to go inside the cabin also located on the top of Kane Mountain.

Sprouse said she plans to use that cabin as the setting for her next book.

The cabin was once used as a ranger station for the forest ranger who would climb the fire tower to check for fires.

“I used a photo and edited it with black and white colors and shading to make it look spooky for my next in the series, ‘Deserted on Lake Desolation,'” Sprouse said.

Lake Desolation is located in Middle Grove, approximately 10 miles from Saratoga Springs.

Students climb up the firetower on the top of Kane Mouontain during a class trip on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Once the hike was finished, the class and Sprouse made their way to Sherman’s in Caroga Lake.

After the exciting day, Sprouse and the class enjoyed a meal at Applebee’s in Johnstown.

“I had the best time with the high school students today,” Sprouse said. “It has been my dream to take readers to the sites of my book and it happened. I hope I have more readers and inspire others to go after their dreams.”

This is the first year that the Adirondack Humanities class has been taught.

Simonds said it is an elective for history credit and an English 12 credit.

Students and local author, Heidi Sprouse, hike up Kane Mountain during class trip on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

“The class was originally designed by myself, Mr. Mucilli, and our principal Mark Brooks,” Simonds said. “Mr. Brooks was instrumental in advocating for new ideas, new models of teaching and new curriculum that could target students from [Broadalbin-Perth] who are especially interested in the outdoors, the Adirondack Park and the history of New York state.”

Simonds said he read one of Sprouse’s books last year and decided it would be a good fit for the class.

“Mr. Mucilli and I decided that since the novel is so local, we could do a field trip tour of some of the most significant settings in the novel, including Kane Mountain, Sherman’s, and Rockwood State Forest,”Simonds said.

“All three locales play integral roles in the novel, a missing person mystery,” Simonds said.

Throughout the trip, Sprouse joined the students and answered any questions they might have had on the book.

Simonds said inviting Sprouse to join them on their trip was a great way for the students to get more in depth understanding about the novel and its characters.

Simonds said they also wanted the students to recognize that there are local authors and should celebrate their resource.

“Adirondack Sundown” is the first of the three books of “The Lost in the Adirondacks Series.”

The novel is about Officer Graham Scott who searches the Adirondacks, the largest park in the United States, to find Sarah Waters, who vanishes in Rockwood State Forest while having a picnic.

According to information about the book on Amazon, “Heartache, false hopes, and the unexpected will make you want to get ‘Lost in the Adirondacks,’ the continuing series of Graham Scott novels.”

Sprouse told students during the hike that the disappearances of Sara Anne Wood from Frankfort, Suzanne Lyall from Albany and Kellisue Ackernecht from Johnstown are what inspired the novel “Adirondack Sundown.”

“I thought of all these girls and what could have possibly happened, especially for those who it remains a mystery,” Sprouse said. “Our missing woman from Johnstown has never been found, nor have Suzanne and Sara Anne.”

“I don’t think [Kellisue Ackernecht] would have just wondered off because why would she leave her daughter behind,” Sprouse said.

When it comes to publishing Sprouse has done both self-publishing and going through small publications.

Sprouse self-published with which affiliated with Amazon. The small presses she went to were Black Opal Press of Washington state, Bygone Era Books of Colorado which is now out of business and Salt Run Publishing of Georgia.

“There is a great deal of rejections the industry is highly selective, but small, independent presses are on the rise,” Sprouse said.

So far, Sprouse has written and published 12 books with more on the way. She said one is due on Veteran’s Day, maybe another in December, one in February and one in March.

These 12 books include: “Adirondack Sundown,” “The Edge of Forgiveness on Blue Mountain,” “Sunrise Over Indian Lake,” “One Last Adirondack Summer,” “Liberty’s Promise,” “A Man of Few Words,” “All The Little Things,” “Lightning Can Strike Twice,” “Against The Grain,” Whispers of Liberty,” “Aging Gracefully” and “Sunny Side Up.”

Sprouse said her fist published novel was “All the Little Things” in Dec. 2013. “Adirondack Sundown” came out in the summer of 2015.

Sprouse said she has been writing since she was a child and has been writing professionally for the last 10 years. Sprouse has been a teacher for 21 years and teaches pre-kindergarden Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville.

Sprouse said when she is no longer teaching, she will be a full-time writer. For now she writes whenever she can even if that means she doesn’t get any sleep.

“One of my biggest goals is not only to have people reading my books all over the country, but to inspire students and adults to never give up when they have a goal in life,” Sprouse said. “My writing took off when I was 40. It is never too late to write a new chapter in life.”

Anyone interested in reading any of Sprouse’s novels can find them on Amazon, at Mysteries on Main Street in Johnstown and at