Large tree with arms wrapped around it and a drawn heart in the middle of the tree between the two hands Tree Hug

Save the Tree!

May 23, 2023

At Margaret Stenersen Elementary School, there is a big and beautiful tree that some people want to cut down. The tree is a cedar and I LOVE IT!!! It is peaceful and I do not want it cut down. There are lots of trees at our school but this is the biggest. You are going to break our school’s heart. So many students play there. It is an old-growth tree and it holds all the school’s secrets. - Arija J., Grade 4

This tree existed long before our school did. For the past sixty years, it has seen Margaret Stenersen School grow and it has provided students with a respite from the sun, a place to meet friends, relax and read on its crocodile-like roots. Numerous hands have become sticky with sap as students tried to climb or race around the massive trunk, playing tag or hide and seek. 

When the construction plans for the school addition were shared with staff, parents and students, many were devastated to hear that they were cutting down this massive tree to accommodate more parking. 

Students in Division 16 took action to save the tree. They wrote letters to the Project Developer and City Council members and collected 392 signatures on a petition.

Excerpts from some letters to the City Council and Project developers.

"The big tree adds so much character to our school. Not a lot of schools have an almost 200-year-old tree at the front of their school. Many kids run around, play by the big tree, and sit in the shade of the big tree to relax. It has been proven that looking at trees or being by nature can take away your stress. 

A lot of animals live in the big tree, like birds, bugs, hornets, squirrels and maybe even raccoons. This tree provides oxygen to our planet and it is very important. 

In conclusion, I think the big tree means a lot to the community,  Margaret Stenersen students and teachers, and the animals. If you take out the big tree, it would break people's hearts. In all my respect as a student of Margaret Stenersen Elementary, please don't cut down the tree." - Piper V. Grade 4 

"Even if you planted another tree in its place you could never live to see it be that big." - Daphne Grade 4

The developers listened and sent an arborist to assess the tree. He estimated the tree to be approximately 130 years old and deemed it healthy. We were thrilled to hear that the current construction plans were altered and the tree will remain!

Students learned that they have an important perspective to contribute, and taking action resulted in their voices being heard and impacting change. And the tree stands to see another school addition and future generations of students.

Margaret Stenersen Elementary