By Megan Kelley
Students at Oakview Middle School had a busy morning last Friday, planting 20 mature trees around the entry drive to the school, with the help of ReLeaf Michigan and the DTE Foundation.
DTE Foundation provided a grant for the treet and, with the help of organizations like ReLeaf, works to plant trees in communities across the state. Oakview was the only school in the Michigan to receive this opportunity.
While a lot of work into securing this grant, the main vision came from retired teacher Michael Mansour.
“When Mr. Mansour brought it up, I just thought the idea of planting the trees – they represent the strength and endurance and wisdom – you’re planting your roots here. I want our students to know, you will always have roots here. Oakview is a very special place because of students like you, because of our wonderful staff.
“And I think that as visitors come up our entrance and they see the trees and what they represent, it just is a visual representation, a visual reminder of everything that we stand for here at Oakview,” said Principal Sarah Perry.
One of the more unique aspects of the day was that the students were able to get involved (with help from several adults) in planting the trees.
“I want this for our kids. I want them to know that they were a part of it. They’re now a part of the dirt here at Oakview. We have such phenomenal kids out here. Their energy and their charisma and their pizzazz, all of the things that are being cultivated here and living on,” Perry said. “It will be their kids that also get to see these trees and they’ll get to pull in and say, ‘I planted that’ you know?”
After a demonstration on how to properly plant the trees, students broke off into groups and were paired with adults who then aided in the process.
The representation that these trees bring to the school could not be overstated.
“Our building is 20 years old and the principal that owned it, her name is Alice Seppanen, she’s passed away. But, in her honor, when they were building and when they were coming up with a name – this location, oak trees out here. What they represent: the strength, the endurance, wisdom. I think that was her vision for out here and I feel like that says a lot about our staff. We have a lot of original staff here who carry on those beliefs in their everyday practice, Perry said.
“I feel like our students are unique and special and carry on a little bit extra of that just because of the atmosphere here and it really, our staff are so amazing and as new staff come in, our veteran staff are making sure that those traditions and that respect is carried on. Going back to Alice Seppanen, that was her vision for this building.”