Those of us that live in Southwest Florida know and have experienced the destruction of Irma, that, in many cases, seems to go on and on and on and…
Tommie Barfield Elementary was not immune to the damage. While the building sustained minor damage, the landscaping took a major blow. Facility Manager Dan Dupuis stated that, “A playground slide was twisted and broken, 50% of our fences and all gates needed to be fixed or replaced and 65 trees were destroyed. Ironically, not one window was broken.”
Saddest of all trees to be lost were three massive Royal Poinciana trees that graced the grassy courtyard between buildings. These trees had been part of the school gardens for at least 35 years. Besides their amazing beauty when they bloomed in the spring, they shaded classrooms from the morning and afternoon heat and were perfect locations for conducting a class outside or having a reading fest in the great outdoors.
To the rescue, and in honor of Arbor Day, Al and Ivette Benarroch with sons Zachary and Danny from Affordable Landscaping and Design generously donated an adolescent Tababula (aka Golden Rain tree). The tree was impressive and Al proudly admitted that he grew it from seed. Who knew you could grow them from seed?
Principal Katie Maya introduced the program, held outside close to the new tree, and discussed the importance of taking care of our trees and environment.
She asked the students, “What is the difference between Arbor Day and Earth Day?” and received a wave of answers from students that were spot on.
The devoted Affordable Landscape gardeners brought in the tree, dug the hole and planted it where the Royal Poinciana trees had been to the delight of the students and staff who watched the whole performance.
Did I mention performance? Well, of course there was a performance, courtesy of Lisa Braren, music teacher extraordinaire, a group of lively second and third graders from Mrs. Bush’s, Ms. Bathke’s and Mrs. Guidish’s classes performed songs about trees and choreographed actions that enhanced the words and meaning. The songs, “Plant a Tree” by Teresa Jennings and “Three Cheers for Arbor Day” (set to Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here) with lyrics by John Jacobson were a great hit and the student/teacher audience clapped appreciatively.
Marco Island has been recognized as a Tree City for almost 10 years. Appreciation for our trees is cultivated at the seedling size – the elementary school!