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The Daily Tar Heel

Town Celebrates Arbor Day with Students

Town officials and area students gathered Friday to celebrate trees and demonstrate their dedication to preserving the environment.

A 15-minute ceremony marked the installation of Nov. 17 as Chapel Hill's official Arbor Day. Participants met at the town entrance sign on U.S. 15-501, which allowed motorists to see new trees being planted.

Mayor Rosemary Waldorf began the ceremony by proclaiming Nov. 17 as the first of many Arbor Day celebrations to come. The day will annually emphasize Chapel Hill's commitment to the environment.

"Trees enhance our quality of life," Waldorf said.

Sherri Evans-Stanton, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, attended to formally recognize Chapel Hill as an official Tree City U.S.A.

"Chapel Hill has earned its title as a Tree City U.S.A. because it takes good care of its trees," she said.

The town earned its designation as a Tree City U.S.A. in 1999 and joined 50 cities and towns in North Carolina and 25,000 in the nation as recipients of the award.

"Cities and towns who are given the honor of being a Tree City U.S.A. must meet four requirements," Evans-Stanton said. "They must adopt a tree ordinance, have a formal organization such as a tree board, designate a budget of at least two dollars (a year spent on trees) per capita and they must have an annual Arbor Day observance."

Second-graders from Ephesus Road Elementary School came to help dedicate and plant new magnolia and holly trees next to the town's entrance sign on U.S. 15-501.

Patti Donnelly and Lynn O'Neal's second-graders prepared for the ceremony for three weeks. The highlight of their performance was a French song they sang in honor of the occasion.

The students also brought with them a large tree collage that will be hung in the children's section of the Chapel Hill Public Library.

"These trees will be a permanent thing that the children can look forward to seeing mature and know that they had a part in it," Donnelly said.

Town officials invited the students to help plant two new trees by packing the dirt surrounding the tree trunks.

Pari Shah, a 7-year-old in Donnelly's class, said she liked the idea of people getting together to do something for the environment.

"We need more trees," Shah said, while using a shovel to place dirt around a magnolia.

John Merchuk, an 8-year-old in Donnelly's class, said he liked planting trees because it helps the air.

"Trees help with the oxygen that's in the air, and they help to keep it clean for us to breathe," he said.

Emily Cameron, a local landscape architect and Public Works Department employee, said the ceremony was a great way to raise awareness for the need to keep trees planted in the community.

"Through being recognized as a Tree City U.S.A., the town has established its commitment to the environment."

The City Editor can be reached


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