GAINESVILLE - Fair Street Elementary School students celebrated Arbor Day today with alumni, local government and school officials as a new white oak tree was planted in the same spot where the old oak tree was.
"The tree was a symbol of the school and of the community," said Superintendent Merrianne Dyer. "With a new school, and the new tree, it's symbolic of the next generation."
The Redbud Project donated the new tree, which is a three year old sapling of the same species of white oak as the original tree. A commemorative sign was also placed near the new tree, with information about both the old and the new tree.
"The tree was a place that we could play under at recess, it was a shady place," said Kim Davis, a Fair Street alumna and teacher. "I've been here as an employee since 1987 and the tree has just always been a part of our campus. We've always worried about the tree whenever we did any renovations, we always made sure no one touched the tree," said Davis.
The original oak tree was estimated to be around 250 years old. It had become a prominent spot at the school and among the community. It was struck by lightening twice, and disease began to eat away at the tree before it was taken down.
"The tree means a lot to me," said Jerry Castleberry, Fair Street alumnus, as he described a May Day event he celebrated under the original tree when he was in the fifth grade. "It was just always there... I don't know if anybody could tell you why they fell in love with the tree, but I think everybody loved the tree."