- Published: Saturday, 22 April 2017 17:08
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By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON - On Friday, over 100 middle school students shouted: "We love trees!"
Students, city officials and teachers gathered outside the Mount Vernon Middle School yesterday to celebrate Arbor Day and to recognize two students who won a writing contest with an Arbor Day theme.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis praised middle school teachers for efforts to educate students about Arbor Day and thanked members of the city's Shade Tree and Beautification Commission. The commission donated seven trees to the school, which were recently planted on the campus near the location of the gathering.
"Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal," Mavis said. "I urge all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands. I urge all our citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations."
Mavis presented the proclamation to Megan Burley-Durbin, seventh grade math teacher at the middle school, organized the ceremony and helped other teachers incorporate Arbor Day activities into their classwork.
Two Middle School students - Elizabeth Diehl and Annabel Waggoner - were honored for winning a nature-themed writing contest, of which there were 48 participants. Diehl, who won for poetry, and Waggoner, who won for a narrative, both read aloud their pieces at the gathering.
"Lilly sat in front of her cherry tree, feeling the warm grass between her fingers," Waggoner read, reciting the first lines of her narrative. "The sounds of the waterfall trickling into a nearby pond was like a sweet melody, and she smiled she leaned against the rough bark of her cherry tree and closed her eyes."
In the first seven lines of her poem, Silver Branches, Diehl read: "My first thought, when I saw you/Twilight was on its way/Taking its way, slow and steady/And I just stared/Beginning Blooms shone/Pink, gold."
Jim Brown, chairman of the Shade Tree and Beautification Commission, said that the seven donated trees were planted in the perfect location, near the newly-constructed Outdoor Learning Center, a pavilion located on the middle school's lawn. He praised efforts of school and city officials to support activities that educate future leaders on the importance of protecting trees and forests.
Brown said that a plaque will be placed before each of the seven trees, indicating their genus, species and Latin name. He added that, in time, these trees will provide shade for future middle school students.
The names of the seven trees are: Shagbark Hickory, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Homestead Elm, Silky Sassafras, Bald Cypress, and two June Snow Dogwoods.