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Sanibel School pupils celebrate Arbor Day with ceremony, song

By Staff | Jan 28, 2009

“Wherever you come from, whatever you do

Just look all around you, you’ll never be blue

From highest of mountains to deepest of seas

So much to discover, every rock, every tree

They’re the wonders of the Earth

Yes, we will value the worth

Of the wonders of the Earth.”

– Wonders Of The Earth

Last Friday afternoon, the third grade class at The Sanibel School gave a special 60-minute presentation in honor of Arbor Day, which was first established back in 1872 in Nebraska.

During that inaugural observation, more than one million trees were planted throughout the cornhusker state, in an effort to transform Nebraska’s largely treeless plains. Here on Sanibel, the children of this community are following in the same tradition by adding trees which help provide shade, shelter, fruit, fuel and beauty across the island.

Olivia Deluca, who served as emcee for the Arbor Day ceremonies, introduced her fellow classmates, who began by reading essays they had written for the occasion.

“I think trees are important because they give homes for animals and they give oxygen,” Georgia Congress wrote. “The trees help you breathe and make our air clean. They are also pretty to look at when the leaves sway and when some have flowers. They make Sanibel more colorful and beautiful.”

Five more students offered their take on trees through some poems they had written.

“Trees are very useful in many different ways, You’ll find them in the mountains and even near the bays, Trees give us many things like shelter, food and air, It’s sad to see some people don’t even really care,” wrote Autumn DeBarr.

After several pupils posed with artwork they had created about trees while reading interesting facts about them, the entire class – under the direction of music instructor Joseph Angelo – sang “Wonders Of The Earth,” complete with choreography showing how trees grow from the ground and sway in the wind.

Berdina Thompson, chairperson of the school’s Arbor Day Committee, thanked all of the children for their hard work in putting together the Jan. 23 program while principal Barbara Von Harten recognized the audience – which included Mayor Mick Denham and his wife, Sue – for coming out to attend the event.

“Isn’t it fabulous that we live in a community where the mayor comes to a third grade Arbor Day ceremony?” Von Harten asked her students. “I think that’s pretty special!”

The gathered group was then led outside by the third graders, who encircled this year’s tree – a mastic, provided by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and donated by the Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva – before each youngster added a ceremonial scoop of dirt at the base.

“I liked watching my grandson shovel dirt the way his grandfather showed him,” said Marilyn Polan of Pine Island. “We had a little bit of shovel practice the other day.”

Over the years, The Sanibel School’s Arbor Day trees have included:

1992 Florida’s Treaty Live Oak

1993 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Live Oak

1994 – Ray Charles Live Oak

1995 – Seven Sisters’ Live Oak

1996 – Sanibel Pioneers’ Live Oak

1997 Shriners’ Slash Pine

1998 Creative Sanibel Children’s Mastic Tree

1999 – The Alamo Live Oak

2000 – J.N. “Ding” Darling Slash Pine

2001 – SCCF Wild Tamarind

2002 – C.R.O.W. Mastic Tree

2003 – Island Seniors Dahoon Holly

2004 – Jim Bowie’s Live Oak

2005 – The Sanibel School’s Live Oak

2006 – Armed Forces Mahogany

2007 – Children’s Ironwood Tree

2008 – Wild Tamarind

2009 Mastic Tree

“I think that this is one of the things that really makes Sanibel special,” added Mick Denham. “These kids know that trees play an important part in our lives and they get involved, participating in things like this and planting trees. It’s one of the many good things in our community we can be proud of, seeing children aware of the environment around them.”