Lanesborough Elementary School third-graders pose with the members of the town's Tree & Forest Committee on Friday morning at the end of an Arbor Day celebration.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The third-graders at Lanesborough Elementary School had a lot of questions about trees.
What trees other than red oaks can grow acorns? Where do black tupelos grow? How long does it take to be fully grown?
The members of the Lanesborough Tree & Forest Committee had answers to many of the questions, but they were stumped by one in particular: How many kinds of trees are there in America?
"You'll have to look it up," committee member Jim Neureuther finally told the 19 students gathered in the arboretum at the school for an Arbor Day celebration on Friday morning.
The arboretum is actually the school's front courtyard, and the trip outside was a highlight for the students in Anna Mello's class, who had studied trees, created abstract pictures of trees using recycled materials like newspapers and wallpaper samples, and written poems about trees, all in anticipation of the committee's visit.
"We're very excited about trees," Mello told the committee as the students read their poems aloud in the classroom before venturing outside on a crisp sunny morning.
Once outside, Chairman Robert Fraker read the Arbor Day Proclamation to the students.
"You are now continuing a tradition that was started in 1882," Neureuther said. "Listening to that proclamation, you keep the tradition going."
Neureuther then talked to the children about different kinds of trees and how scientists (and even budding scientists like themselves) can tell how old trees are and how tall they. Then committee member Paula Byrdy led the children in planting a runner bean seed before Fraker led the children in a rousing song accompanied by his banjo.
Each child then was allowed to select a tiny fir tree to take home to plant.
"This is super, super awesome. Holy catfish," Mello said as she watched the children good-naturedly spar for the "best" tree in the bunch. "They're all beautiful. They're like you guys; each one is unique."
Holding their seeds and trees, the children posed for a group picture and then posed their questions to the committee.
Neureuther's wife, Donna, who helped with the celebration, said she liked to see not only the kids but also their parents get interested in nature.
"They're so focused on their cell phones and texting ... it's great to have them look up and see the trees," she said.