Hopwood Jr. High School has taken steps to go green as it partnered with Tan Holdings for the company's tree planting initiative, a move that aims to raise awareness among students about the importance of trees and emphasize the need for environmental stewardship.
Fifty 8th grade students joined forces with some 40 executives of the largest private employer and taxpayer in the Commonwealth to plant 75 flame tree saplings within the Chalan Piao campus on Monday morning.
The tree planting event brings to 325 the number of flame trees planted throughout the island by Tan Holdings officials, managers, and business unit heads to mark this year the corporation's 40th anniversary of doing business in Micronesia.
The group, which targets to plant 400 trees within the year, initiated the project last March after planting 100 flame tree saplings along Beach Road across from the Morgen Building in Oleai up to Civic Center in Susupe, and another 150 on a public land in Koblerville in August.
Lina Dimaano, vice president for finance, said that it was the first time for Tan Holdings to collaborate with an educational institution for its tree planting project, which is among the company's environmental efforts that would assist in stimulating the CNMI's main economic engine, the tourism industry.
Dimaano said Hopwood Jr. High School stepped up to the plate and volunteered to be a part of Monday's event, which coincided with the observance in the Commonwealth of Arbor Day, a holiday celebrated throughout the world by encouraging the public to plant and care for trees.
“I commend the school for their desire to really protect the environment. You can really see the excitement of the students as they give back to Mother Earth by planting all these flame trees,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Eighth graders under the class of teachers Eric Palacios and Freddy Salavaria marched to the rear side of the school grounds where saplings of flame trees, the CNMI's state tree, were planted. Before the event, the Home of the Hilitais expressed their appreciation to Tan Holdings through their school cheer.
Chrystalle Lloren, 13, said it was her first time to plant a tree “and I think I'm going to start planting from now on.”
“It was very fun and also very important because trees are useful,” she said. “This tree planting event has taught me the importance of our environment, especially trees, and I want everyone to be involved in this kind of project.”
Palacios and Salavaria separately said that having the students participate in the tree-planting initiative allows the younger generation to take ownership in these saplings, motivating them to care for the flame trees until they fully bloom.
For Salavaria, the project is a “good” and “win-win” partnership between their school and Tan Holdings which is known for its community service endeavors. “I hope other private companies and even government agencies can chip in to schools and get these kids going.”
School principal Jonas Barcinas, for his part, said Monday's event was an opportunity for Hopwood Jr. High to replace the trees that have been cut down within their campus due to safety reasons.
“We want to plant these trees and landscape it properly so the campus will look safe and beautiful. Hopefully, it will grow for generations to come so that when it blossoms, then we can really see the beauty of our labor,” he added.
The 75 flame tree saplings were provided by the nonprofit group Mariana Islands Nature Alliance and its executive director, Sam Sablan, received from Tan Holdings a check donation of $375 which equates to a $5 of donation for every sapling.
Dimaano disclosed that the final tree planting event this year will be held tentatively on Oct. 24 in the Marpi area, where at least 150 flame tree saplings would be planted or more than the number that they need to plant. She explained that the extra 75 saplings hopes to make up for those that were earlier planted but did not survive.
“We hope that this tree planting event would encourage others to partner with us so we can sponsor other schools and get them to plant more trees,” added Dimaano.