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School celebrates orchard with new trees

Wyoming — West Elementary students know why trees are good for the Earth: oxygen, shade, clean water and apples.

“I like trees because they give you apples, and apples are healthy for you,” said one first-grader during an Arbor Day celebration in the schoolyard orchard.

The school received two new cherry trees to add to its fruit tree orchard thanks to a partnership between the school and the city of Wyoming. The orchard has grown in front of the school since 2017.

To celebrate Arbor Day, students, staff and Tree Amigos, the city’s tree commission, gathered for the planting. Students read a poem and kindergartners sang a song. Mayor Kent Vanderwood also read a proclamation in support of local tree-planting.

Former Kent School Services Network community school coordinator Erika Van Dyke was instrumental in planting the Beverly Bryan Community Orchard, named in honor of the late wife of Tree Amigos founding member Greg Bryan, who donated $5,000 to the projects. Volunteers have maintained the orchard for the past few years, including through the pandemic.

From left, Estelle Slootmaker, a founding member of Tree Amigos, KSSN school coordinator Stacey Carson, and volunteer Eddie Kurlowicz plant cherry trees

Now, current KSSN community school coordinator Stacey Carson plans to involve students in its future care. Students and staff enjoyed a harvest of apples from the trees last year.

“I’ve been working to create interest so that the school body takes ownership of the treasure that we have,” Carson said. “Little by little, we want to utilize it for educational purposes, and to understand the importance of the trees and trees in general, and that they can (take care of) it.”

Read more for Wyoming:
A boom and whack makes for happy drummers
Students interview community partners to build bonds

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is managing editor and reporter, covering Kentwood, Lowell and Wyoming. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013, and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio


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