Planting new roots in honor of Arbor Day

Cornwall Consolidated School Librarian Laura Munson and Assistant Tree Warden Bruce Bennett shared their knowledge of trees with students.

Riley Klein

Planting new roots in honor of Arbor Day

Grade school students across the Northwest Corner embraced their inner Johnny Appleseed on Friday, April 26.

New trees were planted by several elementary schools to strengthen environmental resiliency and celebrate the importance of nature on Arbor Day.

At Cornwall Consolidated School, a young sugar maple tree was added to a bare spot near the parking lot.

“Acer saccharum. Let’s get official,” said Cornwall’s assistant tree warden Bruce Bennett, noting the scientific name of the tree. “This starter plant came from Canada.”

Bennett explained to the CCS student body that as the climate warms, trees are slowly migrating north. Sugar maples now stretch into northern Quebec, when previously they were unable to grow north of Maine.

“Sugar maples like cool, moist, cold winters to be able to mature and be healthy,” said Bennett.

He said some trees that were once prevalent in the region have moved on or died out for various reasons. Chestnuts were all but eradicated due to blight, for example. Invasive insects can pose a threat too.

“What’s happened with our oak trees this year, especially in our area, we’ve had this little worm called the spongy moth,” Bennett explained.

“Eww,” said the kids.

“Ugh. I hate those,” one student expressed.

“They give you poison ivy,” added another.

“We need to keep planting trees that are resistant to those insects,” said Bennett.

Eighth graders volunteered to cover the freshly planted maple with mulch.

Bennett then went over to Kent Volunteer Fire Department for the afternoon planting of a tulip tree with Kent Center School students.

Kent Center School eighth-grader Ricky Patterson shoveled some dirt on the newly planted tulip tree.Ruth Epstein

Eighth graders helped shovel dirt onto the bulb of the sapling. KCS science teacher Chris Rose shared unique qualities of the tulip tree. Fifth grader Derek Braislin, who studied the history of Arbor Day, shared his knowledge with the group after the planting.

In North Canaan, Tom Zetterstrom and Christian Allyn oversaw the planting of a young American linden tree. This marked the 34th annual Arbor Day ceremony in North Canaan Elementary School’s arboretum.

“This American linden is already 15 feet tall, and by the time you fifth graders are as old as Christian Allyn, it will be 35 feet tall,” Zetterstrom explained.

“Dang,” responded a fifth grader.

Zetterstrom said of the hundreds of trees he has planted on town land in Canaan, he’s never planted a linden. This one was selected because it will provide good shade for the parking lot.

“This is a shade tree and as the planet gets hotter, we’re gonna want shade,” said Zetterstrom.

“It’s hot now,” added a kindergartener, shading his eyes from the sun.

After the tree was mulched by the fifth graders, the kindergarten and first grade classes sang traditional tree songs: “Arbor Day” by Charles Szabo and “My Roots Go Down” by Sarah Pirtle.

The Board of Selectmen then pitched in and watered the newly planted tree with Principal Alicia Roy.

Christian Allyn (left) educated students on the importance of planting trees at North Canaan Elementary School as Selectman Jesse Bunce (right) watered the new American linden tree, April 26.Riley Klein

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