An eager gaggle of kindergarteners and first graders seemed stumped. They were gathered outside at Washington Elementary School when asked if they could identify a sapling waiting patiently in a gray bucket a few feet away.
Guesses came tentatively: “Palm?” “Bamboo?” “Bay Laurel?”
So BUSD lead grounds gardener Genaro Macchiavello offered a clue, “It has acorns.” And many hands shot up. It’s a species that inspired the name of one of Berkeley’s neighboring cities: the Coastal Live Oak, known to arborists as Quercus agrifolia.
The students then took turns with small shovels digging a new home for the small tree.
With Mr. Macchiavello and lead grounds gardener Luis Ruiz organizing the effort by the District’s grounds crew, five BUSD school sites received young trees as part of the District’s celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day. In addition to Washington, participating schools were Emerson, Franklin, King Middle School and Malcolm X. The new arboreal members of the BUSD family include Purple Crape Myrtle, Hachiya Persimmon, Shumar Red Oak, Kousa Dogwood and Farges Hornbeam in addition to Coastal Live Oak.
The species were chosen with many factors on mind, Mr. Macchiavello said, including “adaptability to our cultural conditions, trunk and branch structure, growing habit, maintenance requirements, carbon sequestration, drought tolerance, ornamental beauty, fall colors, native habitat creation, tolerance to the urban conditions, and prolonged success within our climate change expectations for the next 10, 30, 50, and 100 years.”
“Trees, just like children, are special beings and have a unique personality and way of growing,” he added. “We, as teachers, are here to help them become the best they can be.”