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Crowell celebrates Arbor Day
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Crowell Elementary School students work together to plant a tree during Arbor Day festivities at Donnelly Park on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Turlock, Calif. - photo by Joe Cortez

There’s an old proverb that says a wise man plants a tree whose shade he knows he may never enjoy.

That’s why you have to start planting trees when you’re young, just like the students from Crowell Elementary School.

About 80 students from Crowell were on hand at Donnelly Park on Wednesday to help Turlock city workers plant trees in observance of Arbor Day.

The students broke into groups and planted a total of 10 trees — Chinese pistache, deodar cedar, and October glory maple — around the Brandon Koch Memorial Skate Park.

These students will be parents, even grandparents, before the trees are able to provide massive amounts of shade — a concept that might be a little difficult for a 10-year-old to get their head around.

“I think it’s cool that we’re planting trees on Arbor Day,” said fourth-grader Ryan Cabral. “I can think of it … but not the part where I’m 60 years old.”

The students walked three quarters of a mile to the park, and were greeted by Mayor Amy Bublak and Vice Mayor Pam Franco, as well as a bevy of city employees.

“Right now, they might not think it’s a big deal,” said Franco. “But someday they might say to their family, ‘Let’s go out to the park and sit under my tree.’”

After the tree-planting activities — which included digging holes, properly positioning the saplings in the holes, and driving stakes into the ground to provide support — students were treated to pizza and cookies.

“It’s always really fun to see the kids come out and get excited about digging a hole and planting a tree,” said Bublak. “But right now, the big thing is pizza.”

Pizza and finding names for the trees. One group named its tree Bob; another went with Angel; A.J. was another yet another name. However, the most unique name of the day was Toilet Paper.

One group even encountered a gopher while digging their hole (students were allowed to look at the critter, but not touch).

“This is an awesome opportunity for our scholars to learn more about trees,” said Crowell interim principal Vicki Kyte. “They got a good little life lesson from Rudy (Gutierrez) and the mayor as to why trees are important, and how they can help future generations.”

Gutierrez, the city’s interim maintenance leader, spoke to the kids before planting about the importance of what they were about to undertake.

“You can tell your children that you helped plant these trees,” Gutierrez said. “And that you helped make the world a more beautiful place.”

For more than 30 years, the city has held an Arbor Day tree-planting ceremony, allowing students to not only get hands-on experience planting trees, but learning the role that trees serve in the environment, improving air quality and helping to minimize soil erosion.

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City of Turlock Public Works Maintenance Supervisor Art Padilla helps Crowell Elementary School students plant a tree during Arbor Day festivities at Donnelly Park on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Turlock, Calif. - photo by Joe Cortez