Trees planted at county schools

Stu­dents learn about Ar­bor Day

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Jenny Thompson

“Some­one’s sit­ting in the shade to­day be­cause some­one planted a tree a long time ago” — Les Brown.

Be­cause Ar­bor Day was es­tab­lished as a day to plant trees and learn about how to care for them, the Ge­or­gia Forestry Com­mis­sion made trees avail­able to mem­bers of the Ge­or­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Doug Holt, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for New­ton County, con­tacted Keep Cov­ing­ton/New­ton Beau­ti­ful Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Con­nie Waller want­ing to have trees planted at schools in the county.

“Then KCNB made ar­range­ments for tak­ing care of the plant­ing,” Waller said.

Trees were planted Tues­day at Mid­dle Ridge El­e­men­tary, New­ton High, Por­terdale El­e­men­tary, Fic­quett El­e­men­tary, Palmer­Stone El­e­men­tary and Rocky Plains El­e­men­tary.

Each school is re­spon­si­ble for car­ing for the tree, and stu­dents have de­vel­oped creative ways to wa­ter them such as us­ing rain bar­rels or rinse wa­ter from the cafe­te­ria.

Sher­ril Smith, Palmer-Stone kinder­garten teacher, de­cided it would be ben­e­fi­cial for her stu­dents and oth­ers in kinder­garten to wit­ness the plant­ing of the tree.

“I thought it would be a good idea be­cause they’ll be here for the next five years and they can watch it grow,” Smith said.

Waller read the stu­dents “The Giv­ing Tree” by Shel Sil­ver­stein, which is the story of a boy and a tree. As a child the boy climbs in and swings from the tree. As an adult the boy sells the tree’s ap­ples, chops its branches for a house and cuts down its trunk to build a boat.

The tree was al­ways happy to give even though the boy did noth­ing in re­turn for the tree. In the end the boy is old and just wants a place to sit and rest, so the tree straight­ens up and gives the boy a place to rest on its stump.

“All trees want to do is make us happy,” Waller said.

Waller asked the stu­dents what trees gave; their an­swers in­cluded branches for swings, var­i­ous fruits, leaf piles to jump in, shade for play­grounds, wood for houses and most im­por­tantly, oxy­gen.

“We couldn’t even breath with­out trees, could we,” Waller said.

She added trees give birds, squir­rels and other wood­land crea­tures homes and sup­ply in­gre­di­ents for medicine such as as­pirin from wil­low trees.

When Waller asked the stu­dents what Ar­bor Day was about they en­thu­si­as­ti­cally replied, “trees.”

She told them Ar­bor Day was a day to re­mem­ber how im­por­tant trees are to life as well as an op­por­tu­nity to plant new trees.

Rusty Cald­well of the New­ton County Wa­ter Re­sources De­part­ment asked the stu­dents what trees need to grow. They replied with all the nec­es­sary in­gre­di­ents — wa­ter, dirt and sun­light.

“They also need some­thing like pine straw or mulch around them to keep them mois­tur­ized,” Cald­well said.

He asked for two vol­un­teers to help him pack the dirt around the north­ern red oak seedling.

“My mother al­ways told me plants can’t grow on air so you have to pack it down real well,” Waller said.

She told the stu­dents the tree would grow strong and tall with proper care.

“Thank you for tak­ing care of this tree,” Waller said to the stu­dents. “It will take care of you too.”

The City of Cov­ing­ton will cel­e­brate Ar­bor Day at 11 a.m. to­day on Clark Street by the creek flow­ing be­hind Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church. The City of Ox­ford will cel­e­brate at 10 a.m. to­mor­row at the city’s first pocket park on Ge­orge Street be­tween Wesley and As­bury streets.

The City of Mansfield will cel­e­brate their sec­ond Ar­bor Day Cer­e­mony and be rec­og­nized as a Tree City at 1:15 p.m. to­day at Mansfield El­e­men­tary School. A tree will be planted in me­mory of long-time Mansfield teacher Cindy Sav­age and seedlings will be given to some at­ten­dees.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Giv­ing back: Jo­hanna Pes­tle, left, and Alaiyah Row­ell join New­ton County Wa­ter Re­sources In­spec­tor Rusty Cald­well as they grab hand­fuls of dirt to gen­tly pack around the root ball of a North­ern Red Oak tree that was planted ad­ja­cent to the play­ground at Palmer-Stone El­e­men­tary School Tues­day af­ter­noon.

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