The fourth grade classrooms each hosted a baby pine tree last week.
The tiny saplings fueled classroom conversation all week long.
Then, on Thursday, students wrote their trees farewell letters.
Students had already learned formal letterwriting format.
They were also clearly familiar with trees' role in processing carbon dioxide.
They had questions about tone: "Is it ok to personify the tree? Is this a sad letter or a cheerful one?"
They had questions about spelling: "How do you spell 'oxygen'? 'Trample'? 'Community'?"
There were several parallels to a lesson that had happened in Kindergarten earlier in the week.
As in Kindergarten, fourth graders are surrounded by words.
As in Kindergarten, fourth graders use the words that hang from the walls as references and spellchecks.
As in Kindergarten, the lesson began with a group brainstorm.
As in Kindergarten, each child's work ended up unique.
When first drafts were looking complete, the teacher came by and asked leading questions.
Students used post-it notes for details they wanted to add in the next draft.
On Friday, final drafts were complete.
The trees were ready to be planted.
Holes were dug.
Water was poured.
As the students began reading their letters, rain began.
The ceremony was cut short.
The letters were all beautiful.
But rain was probably what the trees wanted most of all.
The pine trees were the sixth and seventh new trees planted on campus since June. The first five can be found on the sledding hill near the Jeanne Picerne playground.