Student leadership members Fabiola Castaneda, Joaquin Pulido, Nicholas Genasci and Santiago Gonzalez took turns shoveling dirt while assisting in the planting of a Chinese Pistache Tree during Arbor Day celebration at Westport Elementary School on May 11.
City officials mixed with teachers, students and school district officials to celebrate trees as well as the city of Ceres being designated - for the 23rd time - the title of Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
"The kids are very excited," said Westport School Principal Jennifer Cervantes. "We are honored to be able to host this. The purpose is to make children aware of the importance of trees, conservation and taking care of our planet."
The 23rd event got underway at 1:15 p.m. It was sponsored by the city of Ceres.
Mayor Chris Vierra served as master of ceremonies.
Recreation Supervisor Cambria Pollinger and Ceres Garden Club member Ted Hawkins also spoke.
"We're an ag-based community," Pollinger said. "Trees are our livelihood."
Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel, CUSD Assistant Supt. Jay Simmonds, and Ceres School Board members Valli Wigt and Teresa Guerrero were also in attendance.
"We try to go to as many of these as we can," Guerrero said. "These are great events."
"I remember going to them when I taught at Carrol Fowler," said Wigt.
Hawkins held a question-and-answer session for Westport's 430 K-6 students.
"If you put a $100 bill in the ground, will it grow a tree?" one student asked.
"No," Hawkins replied as other students chuckled.
Recreation employee Traci Farris announced the winners of the Arbor Day Poster Contest during the ceremony.
Winners are as follows:
•Most Artistic - Mrs. Mendoza's fourth-grade class;
•Most Creative - Mrs. Anderson's first-grade class;
•Most Informative - Mrs. Hatchell's fifth-grade class;
•Most Colorful - Mrs. Silveira's second-grade class;
•Most Inspiring - Mrs. Hart's first-grade class;
•Most Professional - Ms. Pegany's second-grade class;
•Most Resourceful - Mrs. Jimenez's third-grade class;
•Most Abstract - Ms. Licona's second-grade class;
•Best Use of Space - Mrs. O's kindergarten class;
•Laugh Out Loud Funny - Ms. Macklin's sixth-grade class.
The Ceres Garden Club distributed cookies and refreshments.
Landscape maintenance division workers were in charge of planting two trees in front of Westport Elementary School last week, including one Chinese Pistache and one Red Maple. A second Red Maple tree will be placed behind the school in the near future.
"I'm excited we could plant more trees," said Pulido, ASB president. "It was fun when I was scooping the dirt and putting it in the hole. Trees keep us living. We couldn't breathe without them."
"We've hit every elementary school," said Pollinger, who pointed out Arbor Day hadn't been held at Westport until this year. "It's nice to be able to engage with the students. It doesn't take a lot of time. We might do the junior highs next."
Vierra said the city takes care of 15,000 street trees and park trees.
Ceres has met the four points of criteria to be dubbed Tree City USA:
• Have a tree board or department that plants and maintains trees;
• Host an annual Arbor Day observance;
• Adopt and enforce a tree care ordinance;
• Budget a program that allocates at least $2 per resident for the care of city trees.