By Matthew Sockol
MILLSTONE – In celebration of Arbor Day, pupils from the Millstone Township Primary School and the Millstone Township Elementary School received a special gift.
On April 23, a total of 690 Norway spruce tree saplings were given to each pupil in the primary school and the elementary school.
The primary school, which educates pupils in pre-kindergarten through second grade, has a current enrollment of 313 children, and the elementary school, which educates pupils in grades three through five, has an enrollment of 377 children.
In accordance with Arbor Day, the trees were meant to be planted by the pupils.
The giveaway was sponsored by the Millstone Township Shade Tree Commission.
Ronald Schlegel, shade tree chairman, and Phil Cooney, shade tree secretary, appeared before pupils of both schools with the saplings, along with Cooney’s daughter, Abby, and Zoe Zodkoy, both of whom are sophomores at Allentown High School.
The tradition of pupils receiving tree saplings to plant began in 1885 when Arbor Day became a legal holiday.
At the elementary school, Schlegel discussed the importance of trees with the pupils. He explained that trees help them with their breathing.
“Trees are thanking you for breathing,” he said, noting that animals and plants aid each other by exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. “Think about how difficult that would be without trees.”
Cooney told the pupils how to plant a sapling. He said they should find a location without too much sunlight, dig a hole, place the sapling in the hole, fill the hole, water the sapling and make certain it is growing by checking it on a regular basis.
He told the youngsters that the sapling his daughter received and planted when she was a pupil in Millstone Township is still growing after a number of years.
After Schlegel and Cooney spoke, the pupils returned to their classrooms, where the saplings were delivered to them.
Before the pupils were dismissed, elementary school Principal Suzanne Guidry announced the winners of an Earth Day poster competition, where pupils from all grades created their own posters to celebrate and promote the event.
Evangeline Huey won first place in grade three. Sofia Meltzer won second place and Cody Ponzio won third place. Honorable mention went to Anna DePinho, Fionn Andrews, Erin Wasilik and Abigale Korzenko.
Riley Brown won first place in grade four. Sydney Townsend won second place and Keira Kohler won third place. Honorable mention went to Josh Sullivan, Giovanni Mandreucci and Emma Janusko.
Hannah Kilcommons won first place in grade five. Lee Schanck won second place and Mackenzie Scott won third place. Honorable mention went to Angelina Villalba, Emma Lisnow, Gabby Scotto, Angie Kennedy, Carly Nazarro.
The overall winner in the poster contest was Hailey Castellano.