Tuscarora High School will be looking a little greener come next spring.
On April 1, students participated in the Living Legacy Project to memorialize American Civil War soldiers. Students spent the morning planting 125 tree seedlings as part of the project.
The Living Legacy Project — founded in 2011 by Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership (JTHGP) — is planting one tree for each of the more than 620,000 war casualties. Including the 125 Tuscarora trees, more than 4,000 trees have been planted, JTHGP Development Director Katherine Wilkins said.
Over 100 Tuscarora students and volunteers from local organizations and companies planted the trees. The school’s environmental science class took soil samples at the site and selected native species that would do well in the area with the help of Bartlett Tree Experts.
Students and volunteers planted 25 River Birch, 25 American Sycamore, 25 Black Gum and 50 Flowering Dogwood trees, Greg Bradshaw of Bartlett Tree Experts said. In addition to planting the trees, students also treated the soil with nutrients based on a chemical analysis to correct soil conditions depending on the tree’s needs. They also set up cages around the trees
“We’re trying to give them the best chance they can to grow,” Bradshaw said. “In Loudoun County, (deer will) eat these to the ground.”
History students are researching the soldier’s stories, Tuscarora US History teacher Daniel Kim said. Each tree will be geotagged so people can search the Tuscarora site and see information about the specific tree type, the soldier’s name the tree is dedicated to, planting date and the soldier’s story, Wilkins said.
“It is gratifying to see Tuscarora’s science and history departments, and really the entire school, working together to beautify the school’s grounds while learning not only about those who gave lives in the Civil War, but also about the impact of trees on our environment,” JTHGP President and CEO Bill Sellers said in a prepared statement.
Environmental science teacher Miriam Westervelt was instrumental to the tree planting planning, Kim and Wilkins said. Westervelt said students were energized by the community support and being able to connect environmental issues with the heritage of Leesburg.
Town of Leesburg mayor Kelly Burke and Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) spoke at the dedication ceremony. Burk commended students for coming out on a Saturday morning to help make the project come to life. Umstattd echoed this and shared that Loudoun residents fought on both sides of the Civil War. Four African Americans from Leesburg fought for the Union, survived and are buried in Leesburg, she said.
“History is all around you and you’ve helped make it a living history,” Umstattd said.
Tuscarora Principal Pamela Croft said the project wouldn’t have been possible without community partners. Loudoun County Public Schools, Bartlett Tree Experts, the Town of Leesburg, Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Bowman Consulting, Home Depot and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy all provided services and resources for the project.
“It takes teachers, administrators, and it takes students who want to engage,” Sellers said. “You’re part of a bigger project.