Every fourth grade student at Heritage Elementary School received a tree Friday to take home and plant in honor of Arbor Day.
Some 125 loblolly pines were provided by the Fourth Grade Foresters USA through a donation from RE/MAX Heritage, a local real estate company.
Although national Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, last year, Arbor Day in Texas moved from April to November because late fall is the best time to plant trees in the state.
“I think it’s just a really neat thing,” said Kim Paul, fourth grade teacher. “Our kids don’t get as many real world experiences as some others. We want them to understand how a tree goes from being really little to fully grown.
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The project was made possible by Pam and Larry Murphy, agents for RE/MAX Heritage.
Pam Murphy said she found the project and brought it to the attention of Paul, who happens to be her daughter.
“We like to do community service, and we thought this would be something fun for the kids to do,” Pam Murphy said.
Darin Wennekamp, project coordinator for Fourth Grade Foresters USA, said the group has facilitated the planting of about 610,000 trees since it was formed in 2007, about 27,000 in Texas.
“We wanted to revitalize the celebration of Arbor Day in American schools,” Wennekamp said.
Wennekamp said the loblolly pine was chosen because it is native to Texas and is very drought tolerant.
Paul said that many of the students at Heritage live in apartments, and some of them would plant their trees on the school playground.
Heritage Elementary is a Title 1 campus, meaning that more than 40 percent of its students are considered low income.
The school also had a contest for fourth-graders to design a brochure for the tree with the slogan, “It’s in our Heritage to plant a tree on Arbor Day.” Staff members voted for their favorite, and the winning entry was color copied and attached to every tree.
Fourth-grader Katelyn Dickerson’s poster won.
Katelyn and other students had been excited about getting the trees for weeks.
“I think it’s great because it’s better for the environment,” student Kaylie Williams said.
Another fourth-grader Sage Aponte said, “It’ll be cool because we get to take care of a tree, and it’ll be like our baby.”
Paul said, the students can watch the tree grow and take a piece of Heritage with them.
“This is one more way to take them out of the classroom and apply something to the real world,” Paul said.