Tree plantings help school children celebrate Arbor Day

Friday's pleasant temperatures and beautiful blue sky made it the perfect day to mark Arbor Day, the annual celebration of trees.
  Mel Hamilton and Bryan Doerr
  of Homewood Public Works
  Department talk with members
  of the Garden Club at Willow
 (Marilyn Thomas/
  H-F Chronicle)

Students at Willow and James Hart Schools in Homewood and Parker Junior High in Flossmoor took to the outdoors to help public works crews plant new trees.

First graders who are members of the Garden Club at Willow School started the day recalling the Dr. Seuss story of “The Lorax.” With help from retired Willow staff member Regina Zohfeld, who heads up the Garden Club, the children told how the town of Thneedville had no trees because one greedy resident had no respect for nature.
It’s quite the contrary in Homewood where residents, the village and the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District work to take care of the thousands of trees scattered throughout the village. 
“What do we get from trees?” Zohfeld asked. Hands shot up as children volunteered their answers: oxygen, shade, food, paper and pencils.
When the job was done, the first graders, led by Homewood Tree Committee members Jason and Debbie Baldauf, applauded and thanked the Homewood Public Works crew of Bryan Doerr, Mel Hamilton and Doug Hank for planting a red oak just outside the school’s playground area.

James Hart students, from Left, Joey Heredia, Blessing Simon and Kaden Chinwah pitched in to plant a tree in from of the school during an Arbor Day celebration Friday. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
  James Hart students, from
  left, Joey Heredia, Blessing
  Simon and Kaden Chinwah
  pitched in to plant a tree in
  front of the school.


Doerr said this spring additional trees will be planted in front of the school. 
The public works crew made a second stop at James Hart School where they planted a swamp white oak on the Aberdeen Avenue side of the school. Principal Scott McAlister said it will take the place of a big, old tree that was cut down two years ago.

Two sixth grade classes gathered around as Doerr explained that the tree needs a hole big enough to allow the roots to expand. Students volunteered to finish the planting as Doerr told them not to pack the opening too tightly. The roots need air and space to grow, he explained. The students topped off their planting with mulch.

The Green Team at Parker Junior High came out to help Dave Becker of Flossmoor Public Works plant a pecan tree on School Street just east of the school entrance. The tree was one of 55 trees Flossmoor is planting this spring through a grant from the Great Lakes Tree Region Initiative. It planted 45 trees grant-financed trees in the fall.
 Helping hands gather around the pecan tree planted outside Parker Junior High on Friday. Members of the school's Green Team help Dave Becker, with the Flossmoor Public Works Department, finish the job. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
  Helping hands gather around
  the pecan tree planted outside
  Parker Junior High on Friday.


The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders took their turns digging the hole. When Becker declared it deep enough, he explained how the tree comes delivered in a burlap sack with a root ball wrapped in a plastic and mesh liner that were cut away.

Once the tree was in the ground, Becker had the students help fill the hole with the dirt they’d dug up and add the appropriate amount of mulch.
Arbor Day in Flossmoor also included a contractor planting 22 trees in the parkways that residents purchased through the tree-share program, Becker said.
Shoppers at Walt's Food Store in Homewood Friday got shopping bags with specially created messages from students at Willow, Churchill and Hart Schools in Homewood and Infant Jesus of Prague School in Flossmoor.

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.


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