Mark Smith from Belknap Landscaping helps Gilford Elementary School students plant maple tree saplings. (Photo by Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
May 09, 2018New maple trees are growing on the Gilford Elementary School grounds through the efforts of students and a local company.
During the day last Tuesday, students from each class had the opportunity to help plant two maple saplings each on the back field that will grow into full trees. Belknap Landscaping provided the trees and Construction and Tree Operations Manager Mark Smith showed the kids how to plant the trees and helped them out through the process. Kids also tied wishes on a tree outside the school based on a book they have been reading in class.
The activity tied into the school's maple syrup project and the sap house the school is looking to get.
Smith said Belknap Landscaping ordered a number of maple tree saplings to have for local schools . During the GES pancake breakfast, Smith approached Principal Danielle Bolduc about donating maple tree saplings to the school for students to plant on Arbor Day.
Each different class got two saplings and planted them on May 1. Bolduc said they have been teaching the students about sustainability and continuing something for future generations. She said the kids have loved this project.
"We hope that because they're a part of it they'll take ownership of the trees," Bolduc said.
Smith worked with the students on the tree planting process, giving different tasks to different students.
Smith will give the class a water bottle every week to water the trees,
"The promise I need from you all is, you're taking care of these trees because they're your trees," Smith said to the students.
He told the students to water their trees once a week. If they see any of the trees have been knocked down, he asked them to put those trees back in their proper position, and if anyone vandalizes the saplings, the students were asked to report it to a teacher.
Smith himself was encouraged to get into landscaping and planting after a landscaper came to his elementary school on Cape Cod and had the students plant trees. He said he always remembered this activity and he hopes they can inspire kids in similar ways.
Smith sad the saplings will take three years to "establish" and many more years to grow.
"When we did it back home, it was always neat to go back to go back year after year," Smith said.
The students read "Wishtree" by Katherine Applegate. In the book, people would tie wishes on the tree every May 1.
"It had a powerful message in it about acceptance of different cultures," said librarian Roslyn Roy.
Students wrote wishes on strips of fabric and tied them to a tree in the front of the building.