It all began in 2009 after the opening school Mass. The St Joseph’s school community were on a search to find a symbolic action that would remind them of their vision: “lifelong learning with optimism and hope for the future”.
School Principal, Helen Whale, explains, “We gathered together in prayer reciting, ‘God’s blessing upon as all, that like a young tree, we will grow, not just through the learning and wisdom we receive, but especially through the love, care and support we give to one another in our community at St. Joseph’s School and as part of St. Anne’s Parish’.
“It was then that we decided one ornamental tree would be planted alongside the new Kindergarten block by the new kindergarten class, new teachers and any new students to the school over the preceding year. Each year the avenue of trees gets larger.”
This has become a much-loved tradition that has taught the students a sense of responsibility to oversee the growth and care of the tree throughout their schooling at Merriwa. The children share duties such as watering, mulching, providing guards and fertilising. The large ornamental trees will make a vivid statement as they change colours with the seasons, providing shade for the classroom and for children to enjoy.
Stage 3 student’s thoughts
“I love this tree planting tradition because I feel I am making the environment healthier. I have learned to be responsible for the life of the tree and I feel a constant sense of achievement as my tree grows each year.”
“I feel like I am making history and I am looking forward to showing my own children in years to come, my tree. I feel I am leaving the school a better place.”
“I remember the night I planted my tree and how meaningful it was and still is. I look forward to sharing that experience with the new members of the community at each opening school Mass.”
Being a school focused on the environment, the St Joseph’s community have been planting native trees each year during the school’s Grandparents Day/National Tree Planting Day.
“The school grounds have had over 100 trees planted, then we moved to the parish grounds, the local Railway museum, and numerous streets as needed,” Helen said.