Two apple trees kindergarten students at Evergreen Heights Education Centre in Emsdale planted are only a few feet high right now. But in the future, when the students return to the site as adults and see two mature trees producing an abundance of apples, they'll be able to say “I planted those trees.” The apple trees, one a Norland and the other a Haralred, were awarded to teacher Skye Goulbourne's class for their winning entry in an Earth Day contest sponsored by the Near North District School Board. The contest invited students across the board to show how they support the environment, manage waste and carbon and also develop school spaces. As part of the contest, Skye Goulbourne's kindergarten students learned how to use both sides of a paper, turning off the water when brushing their teeth, creating a craft with recycled paper and, when they spent the afternoon outside during Earth Day, they turned off the classroom lights. Goulbourne said earlier in the year a family donated empty DVD cases to her class asking if she could use them. “We gratefully accepted them because we are all about turning trash into treasures in kindergarten,” Goulbourne said. She says it was decided the students would make Earth Day decorations. On Earth Day the kindergarten students painted blue dots on the cases to represent our planet and also wrote 'Happy Earth Day' on them. After being announced the winners, the students had to wait for the small apple trees to arrive. On tree planting day, Goulbourne and other staff at the school dug two holes and both trees were placed in the holes. Goulbourne said each of the students took turns filling the holes by scooping soil onto the tree roots. Goulbourne says as the youngest and smallest students at the school, the kindergarten students are limited in what kind of activities they can take part in compared to their older counterparts. So when they are able to take part in an activity that everyone at the school can enjoy “it instills a sense of community,” she said. For the rest of the school year the students will care for both apple trees as will future students. And as they continue to move through the grades, Goulbourne said they and other students will then be able to do things with the apples the trees produce. “I think there will be a real sense of pride in the students from knowing that they did that,” she said. The board's Secondary Program Coordinator, Lisa Spencer, says the Near North board “strives to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in learning about the world around them.” Spencer says the board's teachers and students from kindergarten to Grade 12 planned amazing activities for the contest with the theme investing in the planet. All the classes were invited to tell the board's environment committee of their activity and among those activities the committee would select a school to receive the two apple trees. The kindergarten students at Evergreen Heights Education Centre may have got their hands a little dirty, which they probably enjoyed when planting the trees. But in the process they also learned a valuable lesson about gardening and caring for the environment.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget