By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — Most of Oak Orchard Elementary School’s student population could be found sitting in front of Joe and Kathie Granchelli’s house on West Avenue Friday morning.
Students from pre-K to second grade walked with their teachers from the school to the residence to participate in Medina’s annual Arbor Day celebration. An estimated 400 students filled the lawn.
Medina’s Tree Board chairman Chris Busch played the role of “the Lorax” and spoke for the trees. He said getting young people involved in planting trees is vital to a community.
“These are the future stewards of the community,” he said, noting how some of the students in attendance could wind up on various community boards or committees down the road, and could be responsible for the well-being of Medina.
Specifically, though, Busch said the trees planted Friday should serve as a way to keep students interested in nature.
“We’re planting these trees today, but they will care for them tomorrow,” he said.
Busch said adding the trees to Medina’s residential neighborhood helps to create “an urban forest” that helps improve several aspects of village life.
“It adds to the aesthetic value, it improves water drainage, it helps clean the air,” he listed. “There are many advantages.”
Without trees lining streets there would be a sense of something missing, said Bush. “Trees can make a neighborhood,” he said.
Fellow Tree Board member Nicole Goyette, who teaches at Oak Orchard, emceed the festivities. She said it was the first year that the youngest grades in the district had a chance to participate. The closure of Towne School led to the change, she said.
Goyette said Friday’s event offered a two-pronged lesson to the youngsters.
“This is a way to teach them about civic involvement and a way to teach them about the importance of taking care of the environment,” she said.
Goyette pointed to some older students from Medina High School’s FFA chapter who also participated Friday. Some of them helped plant trees as elementary students, she said, and they like pointing out exactly which ones. That joy is something she said carries over to the younger students.
Meanwhile, Medina Public Works Superintendent Pete Houseknecht said Friday’s gathering was one he looks forward to annually.
“It’s one of the better events we’re involved in each year, and the kids love it,” he said.