Planting a Seed: HPU Teaches the Importance of Trees at Union Hill Elementary

John Gatti (left) and Michael Beuregard (right) of High Point University’s landscape staff prepare the site of Union Hill Elementary’s newly installed purple leaf plum tree.

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 17, 2017 – If there’s one thing 8-year-old Anthony Alexander knows about trees, it’s that he loves to climb them.

“One time I made it all the way to the top,” the second grader said today during an Arbor Day tree planting ceremony that High Point University held at Union Hill Elementary.

Now, Alexander and his classmates have a new tree they’ll see grow and change before their eyes, thanks to the HPU gift.

The elementary students heard from Jon Roethling, HPU’s curator of the grounds, before Roethling and his team members installed a purple leaf plum tree on the Union Hill campus. This is the sixth tree since 2015 that HPU has planted at a local elementary school to honor the state’s Arbor Day.

“I love talking about trees and their importance in our daily lives,” Roethling told the children. “Trees give us so many things.”

Roethling listed the benefits trees provide, from oxygen, shade and food, to materials for books and furniture.

“They play an important role in our lives,” he said. “I want you guys to know and understand trees because you can make a difference in sharing their importance with others.”

Students answered questions from Roethling too and talked about how trees and plants are part of their lives.

“My dad and I like to put seeds all in the ground,” Alexander said at the event. “We’ve got watermelons, cucumbers, strawberries, yellow cucumbers and a lot of peppers. I like to do the digging and search for roots.”

Union Hill’s principal, Shayla Savage, saw her students grasp a new appreciation for trees at the event.

“This was extremely beneficial to teach them the importance of trees and the purpose of Arbor Day,” Savage said. “Jon did a great job of explaining trees in a way that’s relatable to their lives. It’s a good message for them to take home and talk about with their parents and keep exploring what they learned today.”

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