Tree tradition grows at St. Patrick School

Messenger photos by Kristy Zurbrick
Dr. Jake Froning (back, center) leads a tree planting and Arbor Day ceremony at St. Patrick School on April 26. Froning served as principal at the school for 18 years. He is joined by current principal Rick Logue (back, right).

(Posted April 29, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Trees are everywhere on the St. Patrick School property in London. They stand as a welcoming committee in the front yard, make a neat border alongside and beyond the baseball diamond on the acreage out back, and dot nooks and crannies in between.

Most are there thanks to a tradition that started 24 years ago. With the intent of imparting life lessons to students and benefitting the environment, Dr. Jake Froning, principal at the time, initiated a tree planting ceremony to coincide with Arbor Day. Every year since, students and staff have planted a tree–or multiple trees–somewhere on the property. And every year, even after he retired, Froning has been there to be a part of it.

At this year’s ceremony, held on April 26, the school planted an American linden which will grow to be between 60 and 70 feet tall with a 40-foot branch spread.

St. Patrick School students spread mulch around the base of a newly planted American linden tree.

While students stood in a circle around the sapling, Froning talked to them about the concept of continuous improvement, using the yearly tree plantings as an example of how steadily doing a little bit can add up to something big.

He also talked about altruism, defining it as doing something for the pure beauty of doing something good without expectation of getting something in return. Planting a tree for future generations to enjoy is an act of altruism, he said.

This year’s ceremony included a welcome message from current principal Rick Logue and poetry readings by students, after which students were invited to spread mulch around the base of the newly planted tree.

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