Academy mark pandemic with tree avenue planting ceremony

A Sleaford school has held a special event to complete the planting of a living memorial in its grounds to the coronavirus pandemic.

St George’s Academy invited guests to witness the final two of 14 lime trees placed in the school field by pupils to make an Avenue of Remembrance to the: ‘sacrifice, effort and achievement’ of local, national and global communities.

Pupils of all ages recited poignant and insightful poems they had written on the subject and how the virus had impacted on their lives, all selected in a competition from 100 entries and engraved on oak plaques next to the trees.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

The avenue also features six benches, each inscribed with inspirational phrases chosen by staff to support positive mental health, such as ‘stay positive, work hard, make it happen’ and ‘it’s not about being the best, it is about being better than yesterday’.

Lydia Littlejohn, 12, and Cameron Hughes, 11, both poetry competition winners, plant one of the last two lime trees for the Avenue of Remembrance at St George's Academy. EMN-220226-115826001

Principal Laranya Caslin said the academy raised more than £2,700 to create the Avenue of Remembrance. Part of the sum came from a non-uniform day, from which proceeds were split between the project and the Young Minds charity. Parents were invited to contribute further, raising more than £1,000 in response.

“One thing the pandemic has taught us is the power of community and how much we can achieve when we come together,” she said.

On the avenue she commented: “As it grows, the hope is that some students will find it useful as a quiet place during break time and older students will use it as an outdoor revision space in the lead up to exams.”

The idea began at the end of 2020 when it was suggested to plant trees for the pandemic for Eco-week. “We already have many trees in our grounds so we wanted something to really stand out,” she said. “Then the idea of a literacy competition, positive mental health and quiet reverie all grew out of that and more opportunities came out of it the more we thought about it.

St George's Academy Principal, Laranya Caslin. EMN-220226-115858001

“We do feel like we are coming out the other side and it is nice how a lot of the poems ended with thoughts of hope and coming into the light. There were some interesting insights into the children’s perspectives who also recognised the great sacrifices, opportunities and things we have learned and will keep.”

Another poet reads his lines at the ceremony at St George's Academy. EMN-220226-115806001
One of the poetry competition winners reads her words at the ceremony. EMN-220226-115816001
Poets Emily Gaskin and Alice James, both 12, plant one of the last two lime trees in the Avenue of Remembrance at St George's Academy, Sleaford. EMN-220226-115837001
Singers and musicians of St George's Academy lead the hymn I Voiw To Thee My Country. EMN-220226-115847001
Oak plaques bear poems and benches carry inspirational phrases in St George's Academy Avenue of Remembrance to the coronavirus pandemic. EMN-220226-115753001