DOVER — A new dogwood tree with white blossoms stands on the north side of South Dover Elementary School.
Two kindergarten classes planted the tree Friday afternoon on a windy spring day.
They had some help, though. School principal Jeffrey Sheehan, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, state forester Michael Valenti and U.S. Sen. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., all helped the children shovel earth into the ground.
Sen. Carper contacted the Delaware Forest Service to set up the event, said John Petersen, a spokesman for the Forest Service.
Friday marked the official observance of Arbor Day in Delaware — a traditional day to plant trees and celebrate their benefits.
National Arbor Day is always celebrated on the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates throughout the year based on the best tree-planting times in their area.
Before they planted the tree Friday morning, Ashley Peebles, an educator for the Forest Service, visited South Dover to teach the children about trees.
When they headed outside for the Arbor Day celebration, the kids, who are in the Spanish Immersion program, showed off what they learned.
The children, wearing vests made from paper bags and decorated with trees, taught the group the Spanish and English words for each part of the tree, tying the words around the dogwood.
The roots or raices on the tree, or arbor, suck up water from the ground, they learned. The leaves on the branch, or rama, soak up the sunshine.
Laiya Crawford said she learned trees “give you food and make you healthy.”
“They have colored leaves and their leaves change slow and trees make more trees,” added Sophia Russ.
Ms. Peebles said the lessons children learn about trees build connections “that will run deep and stay with them
She hopes, she said, that it will affect their future choices.
“The tree is such a great ambassador,” she said, standing by the dogwood Friday.
Trees have cultural, social and economic benefits, she said. As a living organism, they’re perfect for school science classes. They can teach children lessons to apply in their own lives, too.
Trees bloom where they are planted and sometimes grow under harsh conditions.
“They do their very best every day,” Ms. Peebles said.
Mayor Christiansen also accepted an award for the city of Dover. The city is the longest-running Tree City USA in Delaware at 26 years.
Tree City USA is a community recognition program that honors cities and towns for meeting standards established by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.