All nine of the fifth grade classes at Belmonte STEAM Academy participated in the Saugus annual Arbor Day Poster contest for fifth-graders this spring. In all, over 120 posters were created by students in these classes. This year’s theme was “How Trees Make Us Happy.” The first prize winner was Nahla Lopez, and honorable mentions were awarded to Eric O’Brien, Neva Senates, Luka Ristanovic, Valentina da Costa and Anya Scandone. The artwork that went into the posters, following lessons from the classroom teachers on the importance of trees, resulted in some thought-provoking and creative work on appreciation of nature and made quite a challenge for the judges on the Tree Committee. Certificates were given to the six award winners after morning announcements on May 4. A tree will be planted on the Belmonte School property in honor of the first prize winner of this year’s poster contest, Nahla Lopez, as had been done at the former elementary schools in previous years. The posters will be hung up in the Saugus Public Library in the near future so everyone can see the fine work of the students.
The Tree Committee is celebrating its 25th year in 2023. In order to qualify to be a Tree City USA, you need to have a Tree board or committee, a tree ordinance in place (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 87) to protect street trees, a forestry program with a tree budget and a work plan in place in place for tree planting and maintenance, and Arbor Day events. Saugus meets all of these requirements thanks to the Tree Committee’s efforts and those of Tree Warden Tim Wendell and the workers of the DPW who have worked to plant and maintain public trees in Saugus. Many other citizens have participated in volunteering at the tree farm over the past quarter century as well as volunteering to water street trees and some of the trees on school and park properties.
In preparation for Arbor Day this year, Joyce Rodenheiser read stories about trees and made a tree craft with the children at the library in April. Over the years the Tree Committee has raised many trees at the tree farm up to the size that can be planted in public places (primarily at schools and as street trees around town), participated in educational programs about trees, checked on public trees to help assess health and determine whether any should be removed or pruned and offered programs and walks. In 2015, to celebrate the bicentennial of Saugus becoming a town separate from Lynn, the Tree Committee donated an elm, which was planted at the Saugus Iron Works near the nature trail entrance. It is thriving and has grown quite tall in the years since it was planted.