About 100 West Park students cheered as a giant mechanical spade planted a new oak tree in their playground on Wednesday.
West Park Elementary School was chosen by the City of Red Deer as recipient of this year’s ceremonial Arbor Day tree — and five Grade-1 classes watched as the bur oak was lowered into the ground by a city parks worker.
Acting mayor Ken Johnston got the kids applauding the effort as the truck drove away.
“What does it take for a tree to survive?” asked Johnston, as dozens of young hands shot up into the air.
Teacher Tracy Carrier said the Arbor Day presentation is a great way for kids to learn more about nature. “Our Grade-ones are learning about the needs of plants and animals… so it’s a great way to enrich that learning.”
First grade students across Red Deer are getting saplings to plant either in their backyards, or anywhere in city parks or along the banks of the Red Deer River, said the City of Red Deer’s urban forester Susan Katzell.
The goal is to get kids more interested and informed about “the environment, the importance of trees, what we get from trees, who lives in trees, and what they need to survive.”
Principal Katharyn Blades is thrilled the school is also getting the new oak tree.
“There was no doubt about where to plant it,” said Blades — who pointed beside the “beautiful, healthy” poplar. “We all just love that tree,” she added.
Students Cairo Miner and Scarlett Weran got to hold the commemorative certificate presented to the school. Weran said her favourite tree is an apple tree, and she agreed with Miner that trees are for climbing — among many other things.