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Fairfax Elementary, Mentor Tree Commission Celebrate Arbor Day

Fairfax Elementary students plant a new tree in observance of a 139-year-old American tradition

While the observance of National Arbor Day Friday may have been overshadowed by the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, that didn’t matter to second-graders at .

After all, the kids got a chance to take a break from classwork to plant a tree to celebrate National Arbor Day. About 40 students and teachers with members of the Mentor Tree Commission and other city officials gathered under cloudy skies and slightly chilly temps to plant a Flowering Dogwood tree at Fairfax School.

“Every year the Mentor Tree Commission rotates among the elementary schools to observe National Arbor Day, which is held on the last Friday of April,” said Cheryl Ray of the Mentor Tree Commission. “The students get to participate in the ceremony and learn about the  important functions of trees in our environment. It’s kind of neat that they can be a part of that.”

The idea of Arbor Day came from Julius Sterling Morton, a journalist and politician originally from Michigan. After moving to Nebraska, he felt that the state’s landscape and economy would benefit from a wide-scale planting of trees. He got support for his Arbor Day idea from Nebraska’s Board of Agriculture. On the first Arbor Day held April 10, 1872, more than 1 million trees were planted. Later, the state made it an annual legal holiday.

Mentor's Arbor Day ceremony included choral songs performed by the second-graders, as well as poetry readings. Mentor City Council President Robert Shiner presented an Arbor Day city citation to the school, which was accepted by Fairfax Principal Stephen Heller.

The students gathered outside to plant their tree. Consulting Arborist Ben Askern talked to the children about how to plant the tree and take care of it.

“We look forward to seeing your tree grow over the years,” said Ray.

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