By Amanda Moss
HAMLET — Eight students took the time on Monday to get dirty and give back to the environment.
The Hamlet Tree and Beautification Group and Monroe Avenue Elementary School celebrated Arbor Day during the cool morning hours on Monday. The day is one that encourages groups as well as individuals to go out and plant trees.
The theme for Hamlet this year was “Young and Old.” Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless also made an appearance to read the city of Hamlet’s proclamation that March 24 will be known as Arbor Day in Hamlet.
Fourth-grade students from Monroe Avenue put on gloves and aprons as they helped plant two new forest pansy red bud trees on the side of Main Street Central in Hamlet. These students have been part of growing trees since they were in third grade where they helped plant seedlings that they are caring for now.
Matt Gordon, a Richmond County forest ranger, spoke to the kids about the importance of planting trees but first he tested their knowledge on how trees are used in everyday life.
“They’re used for paper, wood for houses and they give us oxygen,” said 9-year-old Piper Hopkins.
Gordon confirmed Piper’s answer, but also expanded on her knowledge.
“There are thousands of things we do with trees, but I really relate trees to people,” Gordon said. “You have young trees and old trees just like you have young and old people. Y’all will grow up as adults knowing you planted these trees and started a new life. You will get to watch them grow as you grow.”
After everything was said and done, the kids wasted no time rushing to the trees to start digging. It was a mixture of excitement and the cold that got them moving so quickly.
“It’s fun digging, but it’s so cold, too,” said Ahmad Shelton, 10, as he stuffed his hands in his pockets.
Three fifth-graders were also recognized for their artistic talent. All three had drawn a picture depicting the theme of Arbor Day and what it meant to them. Davionna Campbell, 11, won first place, Yasmin Lopez Tolentino, 11, won second place, and Abby Gayle Lowery, 10, won third place.
Kathryn Romanish, Monroe Avenue’s art teacher, spoke highly of the students that participated.
“They did a good job, and we had fun doing it,” Romanish said. “We got to talk about symbolism and all kinds of fun things.”
Despite the cold weather, everyone was in high spirits as they celebrated the day.
“It really is a day where we are celebrating all that trees give to us,” said Sheila Sellers, president of the beautification group. “We also wanted to celebrate the hard work that these students have demonstrated.”