Local students mark Arbor Day with tree planting ceremony

Commemorative planting took place at West Park Elementary School

A newly-planted bur oak tree was planted Wednesday on the grounds of West Park Elementary School in honour of Arbor Day.

Grade 1 students took part in the celebration, and also each received a spruce tree seedling thanks to City Parks mascot ‘Ann the Alder Tree’.

“Arbor Day is really special for the kids because they get to take home a seedling, and get to help grow that seedling into a tree that will last in their community for a long time,” said Katharyn Blades, principal of West Park Elementary School.

“To have the commemorative tree planting today as well makes it even more meaningful for the kids simply because they are getting to be a part of protecting and honouring this tree that is going to be part of our school community for years to come.”

Grade one students across the province are annually given seedlings to mark Arbor Day, an event celebrated in several countries to encourage the planting and care of trees. In Red Deer this year, more than 1,500 Grade Ones will receive a white spruce seedling, which they are encouraged to plant at home or in a natural area in Red Deer.

“Ann is hoping you can plant these trees either in a park or in your backyard,” explained Susan Katzell, an urban forester with the City of Red Deer during her chat with the youngsters. “She’s happy that you will be planting trees. There are 1,600 Grade one students in Red Deer, so that is 1,600 trees that she grew for all the Grade ones. That’s a lot of trees!”

Each Arbor Day, a local school is picked as the location in which a tree is planted. The City is donating a white spruce this spring.

Deputy Mayor Ken Johnston also did a quick quiz with the children about trees, asking questions from what trees need to survive and thrive. “It’s a great day to plant a tree – don’t you think?

“It’s a significant day but when you localize it to Red deer, we’ve always been called the city inside of a park. Here we are in West Park just embracing what Red Deer is famous for – that is its growth, its trees and its colour.

“It’s a tremendous day for these kids to be able to appreciate that, and a great day in Red Deer’s calendar.”

Arbor Day is hosted by The City of Red Deer in partnership with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Appollo Landscaping Services, Red Deer Public Schools, Red Deer Catholic Schools and all private schools.