TRURO – Singing, dancing, planting, Smokey the Bear, and Woodsy the Owl.
Those are just a few things that happened at Ecole acadienne de Truro on Thursday to celebrate Arbor Day.
“It’s important to celebrate Arbor Day because trees give us lots of oxygen, syrup and stuff to eat,” said Abigail Hovey, a nine-year-old Grade 4 student who won a prize through the school’s poetry contest. “Trees are really special.”
Students at the school piled into the gymnasium to hear Don Cameron, a forester with the Department of Natural Resources and chairman of the Truro Tree Committee, talk about the importance of trees and the origin of Arbor Day.
In asking the students why trees were important, Cameron got a multitude of responses.
“Trees help stop the pollution from covering the town,” was the first response a student gave.
Along with the responses of cleaning the air and making oxygen, the students gave answers such as “they make shade and help keep us cool on hot days,” as well as “they produce fruit and nuts for us to eat.”
“Trees provide a lot of important things for people and animals,” Cameron told the students. “They play a very important role in our lives.”
During the Arbor Day ceremony in the gym, the children sang two songs about trees and had a special visit with both Smokey the Bear and Woodsy the Owl.
Prizes were given out to winners, as well as honourable mentions, for both a poster and poetry contest.
“I wrote my poem about trees and how they make me feel like I should be like them,” said Abigail. “They’re nice to me, so I should treat them the same way.”
Following the ceremony inside, the students took to the grass to help plant a sugar maple tree, and fill in the hole with dirt and mulch, the latter which was donated by Nova Tree.
Deanne Pelchat, the school and community development agent, said the tree planting ceremony was their “ground breaking” for the community park in the works.
“Planting a tree is considered construction, so we’re able to kick off the project with the tree planting,” said Pelchat.
The community park, which will feature a natural playground, was originally going to have four of five varieties of trees planted, including sugar maple.
“It was our idea to plant the sugar maple (Thursday), but then we got to thinking about modifying the park to plant sugar maples so we can tap the trees with the students later on,” she said.
Along with the sugar maple, the park will feature willow trees. The students planted one three years ago on Arbor Day.
Clones of the willow trees at the Grand-Pre National Historic Site of Canada, which commemorates the Acadians of Minas Basin – will also find a home at the park.
“We’re hoping some of the construction on the park will begin this summer,” said Pelchat. “The results of our grant applications should be coming in soon, hopefully by the end of May, so once we have some funding then our larger digging work will be sent out for tender.”