Students of the Center for Innovative Learning at Pinecrest helped City of Aiken officials plant a tree in the courtyard of their school Thursday morning.

The small ceremony was to honor South Carolina’s Arbor Day, held on the first Friday of December, as well as celebrate 27 consecutive years that Aiken has been awarded by Tree City USA. City Horticulturist Tom Rapp said they hope to be awarded again in January for the 28th straight time.

“I think it was just so positive to have people from the City come and join us in our celebration of Arbor Day,” said the center’s Principal Ben Osborne. “It was just great that we could celebrate a special day in a special city.”

The students and faculty gathered into the courtyard where Tom Rapp discussed the importance of trees and how to properly plant one. The tree that was planted was a Royal Raindrop of the crabapple variety.

City Manager Richard Pearce and Mayor Fred Cavanaugh were at the event to help the students shovel dirt around the new tree.

“It’s wonderful to be here and see your fine school,” the mayor told the students as he thanked them for helping with the planting. “This is so important – being a tree city.”

The students were excited about tree planting and enjoyed being a part of the ceremony.

“It was fun,” said Justus Broadwater. “I got to shovel. It makes the school look better.”

Sharia Williams said it’s something she’ll always remember.

“It’s making memories of experiencing new things,” Williams said.

Rapp said they plant trees on or around South Carolina’s Arbor Day every year as part of being a Tree City USA which used to take place in the parkways. Rapp said he thought it would be better to go to a school each year.

“I thought ‘Why not get the kids involved?’” Rapp said. “It makes it more special.”