Ardmore Elementary School students take turns shoveling dirt onto a tree planted in the ground.

Ardmore Elementary School students take turns shoveling dirt onto a tree planted in the ground.

Photo by Alyssa Ochss

Ardmore Elementary School celebrates grant with tree planting

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 3, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The Ardmore Elementary Green Team, city officials and others celebrated receiving a DTE Energy Foundation tree-planting grant by planting trees.

According to an email sent by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the grants awarded totaled $102,545. The funding and technical support, according to the email, are provided through a 27-year partnership between the DNR, DTE Energy Foundation and ReLeaf Michigan.

City officials, including Mayor Kip Walby and councilmen Ron Frederick and Dave Rubello, were in attendance to partake in the event and watched as the students excitedly shoveled dirt to plant the trees.

Mark Balon, co-chair of the Waterfront Environmental Committee, said Lakeview Superintendent Karl Paulson found the grant and that the committee completed the paperwork and submitted it. He said it’s a really good partnership with the community.

“DTE is a really good partner, too. They’re providing the grant through the DNR, right,” Balon said.

Lakeview Public Schools received around $4,000 which was enough to purchase 23 trees spread between Princeton Elementary School, Ardmore Elementary School and the Wheat Early Childhood Center. This grant also gives them an opportunity to use volunteer hours to go for additional grants, Balon said.

They chose to plant the trees in places that would be beneficial to the environment and the students. They planted a couple near the drainage swales at the front of the school and a couple near the back by the playground.

“There’s no trees there, believe it or not. It’s right next to the concrete where it’s really hot,” Balon said. “So the trees that we’re growing will probably go up to 30 or 40 feet high and it was really going to be beneficial.”

Balon went on to say they planted a variety of trees that help the environment and that they wanted to reach out to the other districts in St. Clair Shores as well to let them know about the grants.

He later said in a phone call they’ve been working with the DNR so high school students could help the community apply for tree grants for their districts.

“It would be a great way for students to make an impact and get credit on college applications,” Balon said.

The students who helped plant the trees were from Ardmore Elementary School’s Green Team which consists of mostly upper elementary classes.

“Ardmore’s Green Team is a group of upper elementary students dedicated to learning about reducing, reusing and recycling,” the Lakeview Public Schools website said.

Renee Cusmano, the school’s Green Team coordinator, said the student group started off by recycling in the school.

“We’ve been doing all kinds of really cool activities,” Cusmano said. “We’re getting ready to adopt an animal from the Detroit Zoo. We’ve helped with the Nautical clean up. We’re planting trees here. We’re recycling glue sticks and dry erase markers. Just a bunch of little things that we’re doing.”

Addie Savoie, a fifth grader at Ardmore, said she thinks planting the trees is really good.

“Because you’re making the environment better and it’s a fun experience for the kids, too,” Savoie said.

James McKay, a fifth grader at Ardmore, said it’s better when there are more trees around the school and it’s better looking.

“Just yeah, looks like a good school,” McKay said.

Emma Jones, a fourth grader at Ardmore, said people should plant trees more often.

“And going outdoors,” Jones said.

All three students said they were having fun planting the trees.

Paulson said the event allows the kids to know where their priorities should be and that a lot of the trees had to be replaced due to construction work going on at the school.

“So replacing those trees in a way, with the kinds of trees we selected, even have a purpose at a school campus,” Paulson said. “Those are important things for kids to see and experience so they remember it.”