The environmental center at the Lehighton Area Middle School is a haven for students wanting to communicate with nature. There is a water fall and pond filled with koi fish, flowers and trees budding and blooming and a cozy seating area, but on Friday the center was buzzing with the celebration of Arbor Day.
The center is located adjacent to the school. The center was started 17 years ago and since then many trees, flowers, a pond and the patio were added throughout the years to make this area truly breathtaking.
As part of the day's activities, the students planted a copper beech tree and a purple plum. The purple plum was donated by PPL. A second tree was also donated by PPL, which was planted in downtown Lehighton.
The copper beech tree was planted in memory of Paula Picard and was donated by her husband, Bruce Picard of Mahoning Township.
Picard was at the center to see the tree planted.
"The copper beech tree was my wife's favorite tree," he said. "I can't believe how beautiful the center is. I'm amazed. I tried to look between the slats, but my view from outside the fence didn't do it justice."
The copper beech is an ornamental tree cultivated from the European beech. It is distinguished by its purple leaves, which in some variants turn deep green by the middle of summer. The copper beech is a popular garden tree in England and the United States. It is hardy and can grow in many types of soil.
Joe Yescavage, 7th grade science teacher, said that this is the 17th year the students have celebrated Arbor Day at the school by planting trees in the Enviro Center and it is the 13th year that PPL has sponsored the program and provided seedlings for the students to take home to plant.
Dan Gerber, PPL forester, assisted with the planting of the trees. Gerber explained that the importance of not planting the trees too deep to the students. He said that is the biggest mistake most people make when they plant trees.
As part of the program, Mayor Donald Rehrig, issued a proclamation proclaiming April 27, 2013, as Arbor Day in the borough of Lehighton.
Rehrig said that he urges the citizens to support efforts to protect the trees and woodlands and to support the borough's urban forestry program.
"I further urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and to promote the well being of present and future generations," the mayor said.
Lehighton has been designated a Tree City USA for 20 years. Lehighton is the oldest tree city in the area.