VHS class of ‘23 plant overcup oak to honor campus

Published 9:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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VALLEY — On Friday, some members of this year’s senior class at Valley High did something that could leave a lasting legacy to their beloved campus. With the likely coming of school consolidation, it may not be known as Valley High next year but the trees they planted could be something the Class of ’23 will be remembered for many years to come.

With the assistance of Valley Tree Board members Suzie Britt, Susan Rhodes, Ronnie and Bonnie Bonner and Public Works employees Barry Ferrell, Stacy Brown and Rodney Compton, Rambassadors planted geraniums, ferns and two tea olives. The crowning act was to plant a large overlap oak in an open area on the northeast side of the campus.

With good soil, good sunlight and adequate water, overlap oaks can live as long as 400 years and grow to more than 50 inches in diameter and can be more than 100 feet in height at maturity.

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Planting an oak tree in Valley is carrying on a long tradition that was started by West Point Manufacturing Company in the 19th century. The streets in Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax and River View were lined with oaks and magnolias that lasted many years. Some of these old trees are still healthy and are a revered part of life in Valley.

The newly planted overcup oak is called the Memory Tree and is meant to be a lasting gift to the campus for what Valley High has meant not to just this year’s class but to all those both living and deceased who walked the halls of this special place since it first opened in 1939.

The trees and flowers that were planted on Thursday were purchased by the Tree Board at Ponder’s Nursery. Friday was the school’s annual In Service Day, coordinated by Ellen Emfinger. Members of the school’s Ecology Club spent some time cleaning litter off the portion of the CV Railroad Trail that runs opposite Highway 29 from the school.

In Service Day at Valley High is a recent tradition that embraces efforts to bring positive change in ways that can help make the school and community a better place to live.

In planting the big tree, VHS seniors Will Templeton, Cullen Kennedy and Ashton Carter reenacted the ancient Irish tradition of spitting in the hole. When this is done before the tree is planted, it’s supposed to bring long life to the tree and good luck to those who had any part in planting it.

The Tree Board has planted trees on the Valley campus in past years. Tree Board President Suzie Britt noticed on Friday that a river birch that was planted several years ago had died. “We will have it removed and plant another tree there,” she said.