Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

NEIGHBORS >> The gift of shade

Leader staff writer

Five trees, two red oaks and three red maples, have been planted at Central Elementary School in Cabot as part of the Arkansas Forestry Commission’s Shade Trees On Playgrounds (STOP) program.

Each year around the state nine schools with little or no trees on their playgrounds are selected by regional foresters to receive five trees to provide shade and inspiration.

“This whole project has been a lot of fun and given us new energy this fall,” said Jerry Vaughn, principal at Central Elementary.
“They play hard out here, and that’s good, but it can get pretty hot and we all welcome the shade. If it also means we are doing something to lower the risk for cancer later in life for the children, then it is a double benefit for all of us.”

About 470 students at Central Elementary attended an outdoor planting ceremony for the trees last week. In the weeks leading up to the planting, students at the school studied trees in science class, as well as used trees in writing and creative projects. Several students were selected to share their assignments with the rest of the school during the planting ceremony.
Second grader Madeline Chosich-Hill read her essay titled “Trees On Playground.”

“Did you know trees are our breathing buddies because they are? Trees help our environment,” Chosich-Hill wrote.
“Trees protect us from skin cancer. When kids yell on the playground, trees can make it quiet. The sun shines so bright but the trees protect us.”

Other students read poems and haikus aloud. Haikus are Japanese-style poems of 17 syllables. Haikus are arranged in three lines of five, seven and five syllables such as these, all entitled “Trees.”

“Blossoms, colors, fruit
Trees are very beautiful
The world needs more trees.”
Alexis Baker, third grade“Trees help us make things
Pencils, paper, chairs, rubber
Those are things made from trees.”
Aaliyah Darbro, fourth grade

“Trees are beautiful
They grow apples, oranges, pears
Trees improve our air.”
Haven Maxwell, third grade

“Trees give fruits and nuts,
Trees give paper and syrup
And they grow from seeds.”
Grant Tarvin, third grade

“Fall colorful leaves,
Shade, tire swings, climb, treehouses,
Homes for animals.”
Mark Howard, fourth grade

After the ceremony, each grade took turns claiming a tree and shoveling dirt in on the roots with assistance from forester Steve Burgess.
With guidance from science teacher Sharon Boyd, each grade will keep a tree scrapbook to keep track of how tall and wide the trees grow each year.

“Children, the trees in front of Central Elementary are 6-years-old,” Vaughn told the crowd.
“They were three-feet tall when they were planted and now all of the trees are taller than Mr. Vaughn.”
It will take about three years of careful tending to insure the trees get a good start on the playground. To help the school care for the trees the Arkansas Forestry Commission provided a detailed maintenance and watering schedule for the trees.

“These trees are already about 3-years-old,” Burgess said, adding, October and November are prime times for tree planting.
“The secret to successfully planting a tree is making sure the hole is wide, but not too deep so the roots can grow out, not down,” Burgess said. “The hole only needs to be deep enough to cover the root bundle.”