Photo: Ode to a tree named Jessica

Primary students at Nova Scotia’s Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School with their tree, Jessica.

By Aryne Sheppard, Senior Public Engagement Specialist

This year's 30×30 Nature Challenge reached more than 700 Canadian classrooms from coast to coast to coast. In addition to their 30 days of outdoor activities, classes were asked to adopt a tree in their schoolyards and submit photos and stories to the Foundation. We received dozens of touching tree stories — it seemed impossible to pick just one!

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Congratulations to the students of Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School in Nova Scotia!

Students in Grades 1 and 2 worked together to tell the story of their favourite tree, Jessica, chosen for her location outside the classroom window at the front of the school.

Given the school's history, students determined that Jessica had been around for a long time and had seen many changes. Their story told of the many friendships Jessica made with other trees and the schoolchildren; one student eventually grew up and stopped visiting Jessica, but many seasons later brought her son to visit and play.

The Story of Jessica Tree

Do you think you could stand still for sixty years? I have. But it was easy because I am a Maple Tree. People call me Jessica. I started as a little seed that fell from a big maple tree. That seed grew into a sapling. I dug my roots deep into the ground looking for water to drink. The warm sunshine helped me grow new leaves. I was quickly becoming a strong Maple tree.

I have seen a lot of changes in the years I have been growing. I lived in a dark, warm forest with my other tree friends. Birds and rabbits lived near my home. One day, a big machine came and cut down some of my friends. I was very sad!

Some people came and built a big building and lots of little people came to spend their days sitting inside. They sat still reading and writing all day. Every day, the children got to come outside and run around. They laughed and played, which made me wish I could join in. Wouldn't it be nice to make friends with one of them?

One special day, when the children came outside, a little girl came to me and said, "Hello." I couldn't talk, but I wiggled my leaves to her. She wiggled her hands back to me. I was so happy to find a new friend!

Every day after that, the little girl came to visit me. Sometimes she climbed in my branches. Sometimes she sat in the shade of my leaves and read me a story. Sometimes she hugged my trunk. She didn't even mind that my bark was rough and bumpy.

Over the years, the little girl grew taller and older. Eventually, the little girl stopped coming to visit me. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see her anymore. The winter wind seemed colder without her hugs. There were still lots of children playing outside, but no one came to visit me.

Many seasons passed. A woman came to say hello to me one fall day. She had a little boy holding her hand. I realized that my friend had grown up into a woman and had a son of her own. Her little boy became my new friend and visited me every day. Now I know that even though the little children keep growing, new friends keep coming to play.

— By Grades Primary — Two, at Wentworth Consolidated Elementary, Nova Scotia

The students included this poem with their story, using their five senses to describe Jessica.

Our Poem—To Jessica

You are tall and strong,
Your bark is bumpy and rough,
Your sap is sticky and sweet,
You help the air stay clean,
Your branches are skinny and bendy,
Your trunk is nice and sturdy,
Your roots like water best,
Your buds will grow into leaves,
You shelter us from weather,
You are our favourite tree!

At the beginning of May, Wentworth Consolidated students brainstormed a list of over 70 outdoor activities they could do throughout the month. They wrote these on stars and stuck them to the wall all over the classroom. Students also shared their fun outside — as a class and with their families — on a wall calendar. By the end of the month, the calendar was completely full! Way to go!

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June 29, 2015
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/panther-lounge/2015/06/ode-to-a-tree-named-jessica/

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