Tree plants seed in students

By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

March 24, 2014

A seed for the future was planted Friday, on Arbor Day, through fifth-grade students at Midway Elementary School. Students and teachers teamed up with Just-A-Mere Garden Club to plant a tree to beautify and improve the landscape at the school.

Gavin Garrett and Emma Clark, two of the fifth-graders, picked up shovels and worked with the assistance of the garden club members to plant a tree near their classrooms as part of the program Friday afternoon.

Help planting was also provided by custodian James Raynor, who prepped the site at the old high school and made sure everything was in place.

The four fifth-grade classes gathered in the sunshine, listening intently as club president Sybil West expressed her thoughts about Arbor Day and its significance to the community and importance in the classroom.

“The Just-A-Mere Garden Club was founded in 1935,” detailed West, a retired teacher. “Every year we try to plant a tree for Arbor Day. I have been in the club for 10 years.”

West said that in the past trees have been planted at other locations, like Habitat for Humanity houses, but that when the elementary school moved into the old high school building they saw a need there.

“We thought we would help update the grounds,” said West in a telephone interview Monday. She said that they contacted the principal, O.C. Holland, and he decided on the spot for this year’s tree.

“Last year we had the second-graders in an outdoor classroom,” mentioned West. “Our mission is to make students more aware of Arbor Day and how it began.” It is important that students see how they can be involved in Arbor Day and what they can do to to improve the environment.

West told a story of a grandmother who picked up one of the second-graders last year. The youngster, West said, told her that “when I get big and get married, I am going to show my kids that tree that I planted.” The program is making an impact on these students, West added.

“This club is loaded with tradition,” detailed West. “We want to make this community a better place to live.” The club has also created the Blue Star Memorial for the Spivey’s Corner Fire Department. She said that the group also has plans for more projects at the elementary school.

“This year we hope to get playground equipment for Midway Elementary School,” West explained. “Since it was originally a high school there isn’t much playground equipment.” The group will be starting on that project in the fall since the club ends their year in June.

The four fifth-grade teachers involved in the program were Nichole Baggett, Lynn Cannady, Lauren Burrows and Belinda Kiziah. The students read information about Arbor Day and its history, as well as explained ideas to get involved.

North Carolina celebrates Arbor Day the first Friday after March 15 each year and started in the Nebraska Territory in the 1870s. National Arbor Day is in April; however, states may have different Arbor Days in correlation to the best time for tree planting in an area. For more information about Arbor Day see

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at