Students and school administrators at Copper Beech Tree Elementary School prepare to plant tree replacing the first one for which the school was named. 

GLENSIDE -- Copper Beech Elementary School recently celebrated Arbor Day and honored the life of its “ElemenTree”, the original European Copper Beech tree that stood on its property for a century and became the namesake to the school. During a tree-planting ceremony, a new European Copper Beech tree was dedicated in front of the building.

Beginning on Arbor Day, April 30, Copper Beech Elementary School kicked off a week-long celebration honoring the life and legacy of its namesake European Copper Beech tree. The tree’s health had been rapidly declining over the past several years, and unfortunately the tree had to be removed this spring due to its falling branches becoming a safety hazard. To help the students better understand the lifecycle of a tree, the school used Arbor Day as a means to educate the school community and discuss ways they could give new life to the beechwood.

The events kicked off with a virtual assembly hosted by Briar Bush Nature Center, where an art contest was also announced for students to design a creative piece or item of furniture that could be built by upcycling the beechwood from the old tree. The aim was to not only repurpose the tree into something that could be enjoyed by the entire school community, but also to continue its legacy, which predates the school.

The week-long celebration culminated on Friday, May 7 with the planting of a new European Copper Beech tree in front of the school where it can continue to be enjoyed by the broader community and grow alongside the children in the K-6 school building.

The tree-planting was attended by a handful of Copper Beech Elementary students, administrators and community members. The students used golden shovels to assist in topping off the soil.

According to research conducted by the Abington Township Shade Tree Commission in 2012, the old Copper Beech tree was planted in 1904 by Victor Groshens, who had moved here from France and established a rose business on the current site of Copper Beech Elementary School. Over the past century, Victor’s descendants continued to live in the Glenside area, and at the time the Abington Township Shade Tree Commission conducted their research, Victor’s great-great granddaughter was a student at Copper Beech Elementary School. These findings led the Abington Township Shade Tree Commission to designate the old Copper Beech tree as a Heritage Tree, which means it is one recognized by virtue of its age, its association with or contribution to a historic structure or district, or its association with a noted person or historic event (older than 50 years). 

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