Mead Hall celebrated Arbor Day on the grounds of the Aiken Prep campus on Friday with students ranging in age from 4 years old to high school seniors planting a variety of trees.

Hannah Griffith, a ninth-grader, recently enrolled at the school.

“It was really a great opportunity to do something for the school,” she said. “It was cute to see all the little kids helping to plant everything.”

Kitty Gordon, the head of the school, welcomed all of the students, teachers and guests. The Mead Hall band, led by Director Terry Jenkins, performed “America the Beautiful” for the occasion.

“Can you imagine a life without trees?” Gordon asked. “Trees provides us with shade in the hot summer and by cooling us when it's hot.”

She went on to describe how trees provide oxygen and absorb pollutants. They provide products for building materials, writing materials, fruits and trees also provide a home for wildlife.

Gordon related the story of Sterling Morton, a journalist who moved with his family to Nebraska in the 19th century. He owned 160 acres of flat, barren land and soon began to plant trees, shrubs and flowers – transforming his property over time.

He later began running the Nebraska City News and used that vehicle to successfully share his enthusiasm. Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday in 1872, and, with the encouragement of prizes, more than 1 million trees were planted throughout the state.

The observation of Arbor Day spread to all of the states. Unlike other states, South Carolina observes the day in December, which is an appropriate time to plant trees, Gordon said. She cited Morton's wish that people invest in the trees they plant.

“I hope you will consider that you become trustees of the trees we planted today,” Gordon said to the students.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.

He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.