Trees on the playground removed due to disease


Joanna Odebode

This is the larger of the two remaining trees on the playground by the seventh/eighth grade hall.

Joanna Odebode and Samantha Young

Six trees on the playground behind the middle school have been removed and others are dying.  Mr. Ron Miller, fifth grade math teachers, and Mrs. Tina Boyd, fifth grade English language arts teacher, planted these trees as an Earth Day project. They are Bradford Flowering Pear trees and Oak trees.

 Just last year two of those trees were cut down due to  illness and other natural causes, such as aphids. According to Wikipedia, aphids are small sap-sucking insects and members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Common names include greenfly and blackfly, although individuals within a species can vary widely in color. The group includes the fluffy, white, woolly aphids. However, large populations can turn leaves yellow and prevent roots from growing. Aphids can also produce large quantities of a sticky substance known as honeydew, which often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus. Some aphid species inject a toxin into plants, which causes leaves to curl and further prevents growth. Certain trees on the playground also died from some species of beetle that ate them out from the inside.

There were originally eight trees planted, but six of them had to be cut down. Miller said, “One of the trees was vandalized as a sapling, and all of its branches were broken. Since the branches were broken, it died.  So the school ended up cutting that tree down.” Several were cut down over the course of 15 years. Two of the original trees remain on the playground.

“I feel disheartened of the loss.” said Boyd, whereas Miller said, “I am disappointed the trees got damaged and vandalized.”  Mr. Mortimer, the Freedom Area School District Director of Buildings and Grounds, explained that every year an arborist comes to check on all of the trees on campus, but the trees were already dead at the time that they were removed. It could have been a parasite that caused the trees to die. The trees were cut down around Nov. 30, 2017, just after Thanksgiving.

Maybe on another Earth Day, one of the middle school classes will plant some more trees on the playground. Mortimer said, “I’m sure that the School Board won’t be against it, but someone has to take care of the trees. It’s hard work.”