Stanborough School Tree-Planting Ceremony – by Natalie Davison

On Tuesday 12 November, the Stanborough Primary School Council invited the rest of the school and various dignitaries to a tree-planting ceremony in the school grounds.  The tree, a cherry blossom sponsored by the British Union office located on the same estate, will be a beautiful addition to the school which is fortunate to be surrounded by extensive parkland and century-old woods.

The purpose of the ceremony was to highlight the school’s awareness and commitment to climate change and its effect on the environment.  Aware of the effects of pollution and global warming on the earth, Thespina Papaioannou, school council president, was realistic that planting one tree will not replace an Amazonian rain forest, but insisted that the school wanted to do their bit in their little corner of the world.  Fellow council member, Jasmine Kanagaraj, agreed and said that with the benefits trees bring to the environment, we should definitely be planting more. 

The School Council is an enthusiastic pupil-led body comprised of democratically-elected representatives from the junior classes.  They have had many creative and innovative ideas for fundraising including a recent pyjama day for Children in Need and a healthy tuck shop selling only fresh fruit.  Guided by the Year 4 teacher, Mrs Joanna Swain, the Council members set up each event, man the stalls, collect and count the money, and tidy away afterwards; the proceeds are split between the school, chosen charities and some is kept by for a reward event at the end of the year to treat the Council members for their hard work.

Amongst the invitees for the day was Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, who was delighted to be returning to the school for his second visit in a fortnight.  He thanked the school for the lovely letters of thanks he received last time, one of which is now on the wall outside his office. He reminded the children about the new fleet of electric buses that will be seen around the district next spring as well as the 10-year plan to clean the River Colne.  He was particularly enthused to be able to declare that Watford is 14th in the national league tables for the boroughs using the most electric vehicles. 

The School Council, Mrs Madden, interim head teacher, and the various visitors, were not the only ones helping to plant the tree.  The ‘Star Pupils of the Week’ and many of the teachers were also involved.  Year 2 had been busy hand-printing their prayer tree that same week which tied in nicely with the tree-planting.  This event was a whole-school project and there was a fizz of excitement as the children all gathered around to see what Mr Enoch Kanagaraj, a parent-governor of the school, called ‘the newest member of the school family’ being introduced and planted. Pastor Ian Sweeney, in his dedicatory prayer, said that the tree planted now will likely outlive everyone present yet be a reminder of those lives when they are long gone; he prayed that the children would continue to look after the planet, just as they should look after each other.

At the Q&A that followed over a school lunchtime, Pastor Ian Sweeney, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the UK & Ireland, and a neighbour on Stanborough Park, explained that the Youth and Pathfinder Ministries Department is encouraging all the churches around the country to get busy planting trees, in association with the Woodland Trust, next spring for Global Youth Day – a day set aside for youth to positively impact their local communities. Some of the older children will have an opportunity to get involved in that project via the local Stanborough Park church. Mayor of Watford – Peter Taylor, Watford & Bushey Rotary Club Assistant Governor – Rabi Martins and School Governors – Nina Kalu and Enoch Kanagaraj all answered the questions posed by the council and were able to ask a few of their own.  It was a fantastic opportunity for the children to get an insight into the working of local government, local charities, and local businesses, and for those representing them to understand and appreciate such a pro-active group of young stewards of God’s earth.