Fisherville Junior High School students’ efforts to green their school were uprooted in late May, when trees they planted were removed from the property in an apparent theft.
“The kids that were involved were really upset,” said principal Ellen Austrom.
She said the school is part of an inner city program that participates in greening projects. The school decided to plant an orchard of 12 apple trees in the backyard.
“We had a group of grade 9 graduates take on the planting of the orchard, marking it out, researching the types of trees, and digging the holes,” Austrom said. “Some students also adopted a tree and were going to take care of it over the summer.”
On the morning of May 31, students were horrified to see that one of their apple trees was gone. Days later, another two trees were stolen from the property. Austrom reported the incidents to police on June 4.
“When the first tree went missing, it was hard enough,” she said. “Our greatest fear is that every day we come to school, another tree will be missing.”
Austrom said the students feel disrespected. It was their opportunity as a graduating class to leave their mark at the school, she says.
“They feel someone in the community has taken them,” she said. “They don’t feel that someone in the school has come and done this.”
Other thefts similar in nature were occurring in the neighbourhood at the time of the incident, said Detective Sergeant James Sproxton, of 32 Division.
“The problem isn’t just Fisherville school now, but the fact that there have been other occurrences happening in the area,” he said. “People have been taking basic landscaping and shrubs and taking it upon themselves to do the landscaping in the neighbourhood.”
Sproxton said the police are actively looking for those involved.
“Now I have my school gate locked every night so cars can’t drive back there because that’s the other issue: how do they take them away?” said Austrom.
Despite the recent setback, Austrom is happy with the way her students have handled the situation.
“They didn’t give up on the project,” she said.
On June 17, the students replanted three trees to replace the stolen ones.
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