HANSON — In a gesture of peace, and as a reminder how learning from history can create harmony in today’s society, Indian Head School students and staff joined in a circle of unity for a dedication Tuesday afternoon to celebrate a single tree — and its exceptional beginning.
Guest speaker and award winning playwright, screen writer and author Jeff Gottesfeld joined students for a discussion of how he came to write his book, “The Tree in The Courtyard: Looking through Anne Frank’s Window,” an age-appropriate read based on the life of Anne Frank from the perspective of the horse chestnut tree. The tree bore witness to the changes in her life as she played and eventually the reality she endured throughout WWII, the hidden annex and the Holocaust.
A purple plum tree was planted recently at the front of the Indian Head School representing a tree filled with caring and kindness. The real Anne Frank tree seeds were extracted and shared around the world after it fell in a storm in 2010, according to the author’s webpage. The seeds were then shared to grow Anne’s trees as symbols of peace.
Gottesfeld called his visit “a special day.”
In addressing the school prior to the dedication, Gottesfeld reminded the children that their new tree will be here for a long time
“Long after we are gone off this Earth it will remain,” he said. “Here is the mission I give you. It is to make sure that any other kids who come to this school know that this tree is not to be treated like any other tree because it is not like any other tree. It will care and love … If the kids who follow you care for it, watch it and love it. It will live a very long time and be very meaningful. On the other hand … we can forget about the tree and it will just be like any other tree. Like so much in life the choice is ours.”
Following the tree dedication Gottesfeld said the event was spectacular.
He was impressed with the children and their response to his work.
“It reminds me on days like this … what is possible,” he said.
He called the children living examples of better human beings.
“It reminds me why I write for kids,” he said. The dedication was well prepared, planned and beautiful, he added.
He also received leaves cut of green paper with resilient words such as: courage, faith, strong, giving, beauty, believe, love, to name a few, which were written on the back representing remarkable character and how they (as students) are learning to create a better world and a better community.
Each class received a signed copy of his book. Grade four teacher Dianne Zuzevich received flowers and recognition as a thank you for organizing the dedication with the school and Gottesfeld.