GROSSE POINTE PARK — This year marked the Park’s 30th year as a national Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, and officials celebrated the occasion by honoring some talented young artists for their creative visions.
During an April 22 City Council meeting, leaders honored winners of the annual Arbor Week Poster Contest. Pat Deck, vice chair of the Beautification Commission — standing in for Beautification Commission Chair Bob Ramsey, who was ill that evening — said the 164 participants included about 85 percent of the city’s fourth-grade students.
“This contest is just a wonderful way to educate schoolchildren and the community (about the benefits of trees),” Deck said. “Trees are the lungs of the earth. They provide us with oxygen and lots of intangibles, as well as tangibles.”
Maire and Defer Elementary Schools had participation rates of nearly 100 percent among their fourth-grade classes, and Deck said Maire students once again had the top poster contest winners.
Chloe Dvonch, of Maire, was this year’s winner. Her poster incorporated colored pencil, glitter and paint to illustrate a pair of hands holding a tree about to be planted and included the slogan, “Do a Good Deed, Plant a Tree.” Deck said the poster “has just the right amount of glitter on there.”
“It’s just beautiful,” Mayor Palmer Heenan said as he and Deck presented Dvonch with her award.
The runners-up — both also from Maire — were Lauren Petrouleas and Quinn Sahutske. Petrouleas’ tree featured jeweled owls perched in a large oak tree, along with the question, “Who will care for the trees if we don’t?” A squirrel at the base of her tree declared, “I’m nuts about trees.”
“My inspiration was owls,” Petrouleas said.
“Isn’t that clever?” Deck asked.
“All of them are clever,” Heenan replied.
Sahutske had an equally inventive take, using “Star Wars” as a theme and creating a 3-D tree out of tissue paper and natural wood pencils. A lightsaber pencil emerging out of the trunk pointed to her message, “May the Forest Be With You.”
“We are so grateful to the support of the schools and the administration, and to the students, who never fail to amaze us,” Deck said.
The winners and their family members were on hand for the presentations. Deck said their prizes included commemorative Lady Bird Johnson stamps because she championed beautification and environmental causes.
“This is an exciting day,” Heenan said. “It’s the best day of the year for the council because we enjoy all of the young folks who participate in our Arbor Day contest. I looked at (all of the posters). They were astoundingly (creative).”
Entries are judged each year by members of the Beautification Commission, and each fourth-grader received a Michigan white pine seedling — the state tree — to plant, Deck said. Contest participants were given an Arbor Week pencil, as well, she said.
In honor of the city’s 30th anniversary as a Tree City USA, “The national Arbor Day Foundation gave us a special plaque,” City Forester Brian Colter said.