Students’ garden grows to new heightsStudents at Cooper Elementary School welcomed the newest additions Thursday with cheers and the words “Plant a tree!”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Students at Cooper Elementary School welcomed the newest additions Thursday with cheers and the words “Plant a tree!”
The three flowering fruit trees – two apple and one cherry – waved in response. They are part of the school’s Learning Garden project, which broke ground last month. The area boasts 10 raised gardens, some already sprouting kale and leeks, as well as a “talking tube,” pathways and picnic tables.
“The Learning Garden has set the stage for this planting,” said Mary Morgan, city forester. “The students, staff, parents and business community have created an artistic and beautiful garden space that helps students learn about nature and how to protect it.”
Cooper Principal Brett Brodeen said the student-led initiative has grown with the help of businesses, master gardener volunteers and community members.
“It’s really neat to see ideas come from students,” he said, and get support from so many facets of the community. He unveiled the garden’s motto during the morning assembly: “Where we live, learn and grow together.”
Dale Howard, 11, remembers rolling up and removing sod during the first work day. Later, the fifth-grader helped fashion birdhouses and build a sandbox surround.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s fun to work on.”
Dale and his classmate Austin Carmichael were chosen to help Master Gardener Jan LeBard plant raspberry and strawberry plants after the tree ceremony finished. They were excited about the city’s donation.
“These are going to be cool,” Dale said of the trees.
“Especially the apples,” Austin said.
Thursday’s event marked Arbor Day in Superior, complete with a proclamation from Mayor Dave Ross.
“What a wonderful week it is,” he told the assembled students. “We’re planting trees all over town.”
As they settled the trees into their new home, members of the forestry board discussed their importance with students. Trees provide shade, shelter, homes for animals and oxygen. A full-grown Maple tree, Morgan said, provides enough oxygen for four people through photosynthesis. When students asked how photosynthesis works, the city forester passed the question along to Dawn Theelke’s second-grade students, who had just learned about the process.
Trees reduce noise and pollution while producing paper and wood for homes and fuel.
And some, like Cooper’s new additions, will provide fruit for apple crisp, cherry pie and apple pickles.
“Apple pickles?” asked Morgan when a student told her his favorite apple recipe. “That’s new to me.”
The members of the tree board challenged youth to become stewards of trees.
“We’re counting on you to take care of them,” Morgan said. Protect their bark and branches, she told the youth, and don’t pick the flowers. In return, the trees will grow tall – as tall as 20 feet – and shower them with benefits.
Austin and Dale will be moving on to Superior Middle School this fall, but they plan to keep an eye on the trees over the summer and into the future. They said the lessons they’ve learned digging in the soil at Cooper and at home with their parents will move on with them.
“We’ll do more gardening,” Austin said.