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Planting a Tree for Arbor Day

Saluda Trail 8th Graders Plant Tree at School in Honor of Arbor Day 

“What is a tree’s favorite thing to drink? Root Beer!” This year’s Arbor Day started off with a joke from the tree enthusiasts at Bartlett Tree Experts who were gathered in the field at Saluda Trail Middle School to celebrate the holiday by planting a tree with the 8th grade students.

Every year, Bartlett Tree Experts along with the Rock Hill Tree Commission partner with a local Rock Hill school to celebrate the day and help educate the students about the importance of trees in our community. “You don’t plant a tree for yourself,” Joshua Nypaver the Chair of the Rock Hill Tree Commission told the STMS students gathered outside. “You plant for the next generation to enjoy and receive the benefits.” 

Before any holes were dug or dirt was mixed, a brief ceremony was led by two STMS faculty to educate the students on the benefits of healthy trees in the community. Ms. Hope Matthews, a self-proclaimed nature nut and STMS science teacher, conveyed the importance of caring for our community’s trees. “Trees provide us with oxygen, food, water, shade, even furniture,” she said, “They also help reduce pollution and improve air quality.” 

Coach Chonce Dunham furthered her remarks by speaking about the importance of having strong roots in trees and oneself: “Right now you are going through your growing process. If you’re rooted in positive stuff, at the end of the day, you will be ok. Wind is going to blow, but you are still going to stand. You will be strong. You will be able to flourish. You will be able to prosper.” Mr. Dunham finished the ceremony by reading the poem “The Gift of the Tree” by Lenore Hetrick. 

Students were surprised to learn the ideal time to plants trees in South Carolina is between late fall and early spring. “Right now is the best time for planting in South Carolina,” Ms. Matthews told the students as they headed outside.

Under the guidance and assistance of City Forester Matt Clinton, selected students participated in planting the new Shumard Oak for their school. Students separated into mini “crews” to take on the steps of planting the tree for success: mixing good topsoil, digging the hole to the correct size, perfectly placing the tree with no angle, breaking up soil chunks, and adding mulch. School district facility services team members will help with continued care for the tree, which can grow to around 80 feet tall.

 Arbor Day didn’t end for the students after the shovels were packed. Through the donation of Bartlett Tree Experts, each 8th grader at Saluda Trail was given a smaller tree, Sweetbay Magnolias, of their own to take home.  Sweetbay Magnolias, which typically only reach heights of 20 feet, have the ability to sprout beautiful little flowers and release a sweet, lemony fragrance. Students were encouraged to share the process of planting their trees with family or friends.

 Saluda Trail students on Arbor Day

In South Carolina, Arbor Day is observed on the first Friday of December. Each state designates their own Arbor Day based on the local differences in climate and weather best suited for planting season. Typically, Arbor Day is celebrated by planting trees.