Dr. Michael Gross, the chairman of the Lakewood Shade Tree Commission for the past three years, and Kurt Ceresnak, the principal of the Spruce Street School, decided that the large, enclosed courtyard at the school would be the best location to plant a Star Magnolia, which will have a sign designating that it was planted on Arbor Day 2014.
In past years, trees have been planted at township fire companies, EMS, Lakewood Public Works and the BlueClaws’ stadium. Two years ago, the Arbor Day ceremony took place at the Clark School; last year it was at the Oak Street School.
Dr. Gross said, “Recently we decided to hold the Arbor Day ceremony at schools so we could educate the children about the holiday. We decided to plant the tree in the courtyard because there are always lots of classes around it, and we thought that in future years teachers could plan some activities around the Arbor Day planting.”
Dr. Gross, a full-time administrator and biology professor at Georgian Court University (GCU), is also the director of the university’s arboretum.
The first celebration of Arbor Day in the United States took place in 1872. The holiday, held on the last Friday in April, was created to encourage individuals and groups to plant trees and realize their importance.
Lakewood has embraced that concept, holding Arbor Day ceremonies and planting hundreds of trees over the years. “This is the 33rd year Lakewood is among 172 New Jersey municipalities that hold the distinction of being designated a Tree City USA,” said Craig J. Theibault, former chairman of the Lakewood Shade Tree Commission from 1994 to 2010 and a current member.
“You know what they say: “The best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago; the second best time is today’,” said Theibault, who holds a B. S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture.
Besides serving on the Shade Tree Commission locally, Theibault has been a member of the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission since 1992. He has also served as a member of the N.J. Community Forestry Council, a 20-member advisory board to the State Forester, since 1999.
The event today for the kindergartners included the reading of a proclamation and presentation, and a song sung by the children in honor of Arbor Day. [TLS]