Growing Green

first_imgBy Shelly Leachman STAFF WRITER Barely a month after a giant tree fronting the school was felled over safety concerns – and despite pleas to save it – El Segundo’s Richmond Street Elementary has planted multiple replacements. In a Friday event that launched the school’s participation in districtwide efforts to go green, the 500-member student body planted nearly two-dozen new trees across their sprawling campus. “I think it’s a pretty good thing to do,” said fifth-grader Imaiya-Milan Wright, 10. “It’s good for our environment because it helps the trees and the animals.” The move comes about five weeks after the removal of a stone pine tree called Richard, whose destruction was proposed and denied three times since 1999. Board members approved its ouster last month. Over the years a kindergartners’ play and lunch area sprang up under and around the 70-year-old tree, sparking fears of a potential tragedy if one of its massive limbs were to fall. Pointing to an arborist’s report that the tree was healthy and an assessment that no tree can ever be guaranteed 100percent safe, area environmentalists begged the board to save Richard, asking that they instead install a crutch system to better secure the branches. The tree was taken down Aug. 21. Five new trees were quickly planted outside the school, according to Principal Dickie Van Breene. And Friday’s festivities – where every student was sent home with a baby-tree planting kit – added 23 more. “It had always been a goal to plant more trees here,” Van Breene said. “And if all these kids plant those baby trees at home, that will mean 530 more trees in El Segundo.” Hoping to also help environmental awareness grow in its students, the school this year is amping up its recycling efforts, making a big push for Walk to School Day (which happens across the country Wednesday) and has established a green committee of teachers assigned to keep the eco-education ideas flowing. The latter collaboration resulted in Friday’s special guest, biologist Kelly Kephart, who spoke to several classes earlier in the day about the creation and conservation of wetlands that she does in her work for the URS Corp. “I’m so glad they’re teaching them this stuff now so they’re aware of their environment,” Kephart said later of the school’s new initiatives. “Hopefully, it will spark an awareness earlier on – maybe they’ll want to be biologists someday.” Before the planting began Friday afternoon, a short presentation featured several students reciting facts about trees. “Trees enhance the aesthetics of our environment,” one boy said to start things off. “Trees are the longest-living organisms on Earth,” a girl added. After several more kids chimed in, a shaggy blond-haired boy took the microphone and joked: “People who plant trees become healthier, better looking, richer and have more friends.” “Well, maybe that’s stretching it,” he continued, “but we’re gonna plant some trees today and find out.” With that, every class in school lined up at their assigned tree and every student took a turn with the shovel. (The young trees – a mix of Chinese fringe, golden rain and golden trumpet – had already been placed in pre-dug holes.) Before darting off for some apple juice and to retrieve his baby-tree kit, fifth-grader Amit Pujari had this to say of the day’s events: “It helps with our oxygen. Without trees we wouldn’t have much oxygen, so we need to make sure they stay around a long time. We need as much oxygen as we can get.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more