SILVERTON, Ore – As you drive highways that wind through fields of Oregon Christmas trees, think of the kids at Silver Crest School, located in rural Silverton near Silver Creek Falls. There are few students anywhere that have a better concept of a global world than the 140 or so kids who attend Silver Crest. Surrounded by Christmas tree farms owned and operated by civic minded growers, for about 12 years now these students have individually tagged two or three Christmas trees with their names and school address and a plea to have the buyer write to them and tell them where the tree ended up.
“These kids get to see how their small rather isolated community has an impact on the world,” said Abby Greene, a long time teacher at Silver Crest. “Each of the kids in first through eighth grade, tags two or three trees with special tags that invite whoever buys them to write to them at the school. When a response comes back, the student responds with a personal letter and includes a brochure that talks about Christmas tree farming in their community. Sometimes, even long-term pen-pal friendships come out of it. We put up a map and track where the trees come from. It is fun as well as educational.
Letters come in from people all over the world and in all walks of life, Greene said. Some people send T-shirts, photos of the tree after its decorated and photos of their family. One year, a student received a response and some memorabilia from the actress in California who does the voice-over for the animated Jimmy Neutron series.
“We’ve had responses from a Catholic monk, retail nurseries, someone from the University of Hawaii and as far away as Asia. The kids really start watching the mailbox,” Greene said.
The brochure that students send out to those who write to them, explains in detail how their tree started as a seed, was transferred to the field as a seedling, how it was clipped, trimmed and harvested, and, finally how it was shipped to the person who bought it. On the outside panels the brochure tells about Silver Crest School, the community and that lies between Silverton and Silver Creek Falls. It also tells about Silver Crest School and the surrounding community that lies between Silverton and Silver Creek Falls.
Poem to the buyer
The tags students attach to the trees,, include the following poem:
“Like a letter in a bottle that’s tossed far out to sea,
This special tag has been placed upon your Christmas tree.
Let me introduce myself, I’m a child at Silver Crest,
A school in tree farm land, way out in the West.
I wonder where you’re reading this poem sent just to you.
And if you’d like to write me, I’ll tell you about my school.
You’ll be sent information on how your tree was grown
From a tiny seedling to the tree that’s in your home.
So don’t delay, just write me at the address seen below,
And have a happy holiday with lots of fun and snow.”
“It is delightful to see the hopes and aspirations these kids have when they put their tags on the trees,” Kent said. “They walk over from the school, pick the trees they want to put their tags on, eat some cookies we have waiting for them and then go back to the classroom and wait for the letters to come in. It not only teaches them so many things but it is a cool thing to watch.”
– Jan Jackson ©2010; See Jan Jackson’s Bio