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Howell Schools Go Green for Arbor Day

Third graders learn the importance of trees and the environment

All across town the elementary schools of the got a little greener on Friday as part of the annual Arbor Day celebrations. 

Members of the town council and administrators were part of the celebrations as were master gardeners and members of the Shade Tree Commission. As part of the day a new tree was planted at the schools as students saw how much trees from previous third grade classes have grown over the years. 

Cathy McKee, the chairperson of the commission said the township has been holding similar celebrations at the schools since the early 1980's. Not only do the schools get a new tree but the students also get seedlings to bring home to plant their own trees. 

There are also poster and writing contests with the winners getting special plants to bring home as well. 

At , Mayor Robert Walsh spent time with the students answering questions and reading them a book called "Touch the Earth." From there he helped the students plant their tree in front of the school. 

Walsh said it was important for the students to understand what a vital role trees play in their lives. "The trees are very important to our overall well being and the future," he said. "A lot of times to older business people it's about money so this is about planting seeds not just in the ground but in their hearts and in their minds."

The mayor said he was glad that the students were able to be a part of the celebration in a town that he said is "green, and I'd like to keep it that way."

Adelphia Lead Teacher Debbie Long said the students put a lot of work into getting ready for Arbor Day. "They learn about why trees are important and we always get to plant a tree out to help beautify the school," she said. "I have them bring in the dirt from home so that their love from home helps nurture the tree."

Later in the day Deputy Mayor William Gotto was at the . As he helped the young leaders plant their tree and gave out prizes for the poster contest Gotto said it was an important day for everyone involved. "It's about the kids first and foremost," he said. "Anytime you get to talk to the kids about the town and something as important as Arbor Day, to be around the kids you see they get it."

As part of his trip to Ardena Gotto also got a tour of the oldest school in the district and saw the pride that goes into the programs in the building. "They're proud of where they live, they're proud of what they do."

Being able to take a break from his regular schedule to be at the school was also a nice change for Gotto. "It's fun, I just like being around the kids so getting your hands dirty with the kids and helping them plant and have a little bit of fun that's what it's about."

He echoed the mayor in the importance of trees in the town. "Trees are a big deal in Howell. We're very aggressive with trees, we have some very aggressive ordinances of what you can do and can't do with trees."

He credited the Shade Tree Commission and the people involved with playing a prominent role in that. "They're a main component of what we do and they're a great group of people that work very very hard."

Third grade teachers Karen Giameo and Tammy O'Gara said they enjoyed being able to celebrate the festivities with their students. "Arbor Day is a tradition that we've been doing for many years," said Giameo. "We celebrate and recognize the importance of trees and what they mean to communities."

Even at a young age O'Gara said the students get excited about the day. "They really understand the importance of preserving and protecting and to use trees but to use them wisely and not take advantage of the resources that we have."

Both teachers said a lot of work goes into the day using the internet and the history of the day which dates back to the 1870's. O'Gara said the school's PTA helped out as well with a program about the parts of the tree and what they can be used for. "They really enjoyed that this year," she said of the students. 

In a time when many things are going digital, Giameo said it is important for the students to see how the technological advances are helping preserve trees in addition to helping to make their lives easier. 

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