FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Nov. 10, 2009) - The playground was full of laughter and smiling faces. But today was no normal recess. It was a celebration of trees as students from Shafter Elementary School and Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army, Pacific, planted 15 trees at the school to celebrate Arbor Day in Hawaii.
"It started off as a desire for some shade," said school principal Robin Martin. "Then everybody got so excited about it, it just grew into not just one or two trees, but a lot of trees."
The monkey pod trees, which can grow up to 80 feet high, were planted around the school playground and athletic field. The trees were donated by The Outdoor Circle, a Hawaii based organization, whose mission is protecting the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Soldiers who participated were also very excited to help the students improve their school.
"It's always a pleasure to help out the local community in any way possible." said Staff Sgt. Crystal Fowler, HHB, U.S. Army, Pacific.
During the ceremony, guests were treated to several musical numbers performed by the students, including the kindergarten class singing "The Green Grass Grows all Around," and an original Arbor Day rap and dance performance by the sixth grade class. The ceremony concluded with a lei presentation on the largest, newly planted tree next to the playground.
"We believe that this very beautiful and very tall tree deserves a lei." said Mary Steiner, Director of The Outdoor Circle.
With the lei placed on the tree, the students all gathered around the tree and took turns throwing soil around the trunk to symbolize that the tree is firmly planted and now a part of Shafter Elementary. After the ceremony, the students and guests were treated to an assortment of cupcakes with green frosting and topped with plastic trees.
Arbor Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant trees. The national holiday is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April. However, each state celebrates its own Arbor Day. Hawaii officially recognizes the first Friday in November as Arbor Day. To learn more about Arbor Day in Hawaii visit www.arbordayhawaii.org.