Student's Winning Essay Earns School a New Tree in Honor of Arbor Day

A seventh grader at St. Bernadette Catholic Academy won a village-wide Arbor Day essay content, winning a tree planting at her school.

 students and faculty welcome a new addition to the school family -- a tree planted with the help of the officials.

This year, to recognize , the village held its first-ever essay contest, asking students from all schools within the village to submit their ideas about saving trees. The contest was open to any child between grades four and eight from any Evergreen Park school.

"We hope for it to be an annual event," said village arborist Gavin Yeaman.

This year's winner, 12-year-old Mattie Hughes, a seventh grader at St. Bernadette, earned her school a brand new tree, which was planted during a brief ceremony, Friday, April 27.

The day was a bit windy, but the sun was shining brightly as Hughes helped shovel dirt on to the campus' new tree. 

"It's nice," Hughes said about winning the contest, placing first out of 380 essays submitted.

She said she hadn't really considered how important trees are before but writing the essay "really makes you think about trees and what you do to them."

Now the entire campus has a physical reminder to appreciate trees. About 90 students attended the planting, said Principal Arlene Baumann. Village Mayor James Sexton and village arborist Gavin Yeaman were also on hand.

"Mattie wrote a beautiful essay and won a tree for St. Bernadette, so now we can always thank Mattie as well as the village," Baumann said.

Baumann said Hughes' win is a reflection of the "small but mighty" effort of students on the campus.

 "We excel in academics, we excel in sports and students typically get to the high school of their choice," Baumann said proudly. "We nourish the students here, we care for them. We never say 'never.'"

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