Haddonfield Elementary Schoolers Plant 100 Trees at Hopkins Pond as Camden County Celebrates Arbor Day


The planting event also commemorates the J. Fithian Tatem Elementary School centennial. Students there enjoy the county park as their outdoor greenspace. 

By Matt Skoufalos | April 23, 2024

Tatem Elementary School Principal Donnetta Beatty. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

In its centennial year, J. Fithian Tatem Elementary School in Haddonfield got “an amazing birthday present,” Principal Donnetta Beatty said: 100 new trees, delivered on Arbor Day, no less.

Camden County Parks Department staff led a swarm of Tatem Tigers in planting Kanzan Cherry trees at the Grove Street entrance to Hopkins Pond, a county park that Beatty said serves as the children’s de facto backyard.

In addition to offering recreational space, Hopkins Pond also provides a living connection to the environmental sciences.

Students cultivate seed germination projects in aluminum planters, learning gardening that aligns with stories they read.

Before the planting, Beatty said teachers talked with students about “Earth Day, Arbor Day, and our role within it,” focusing on “small things kids can do to make an impact to save our planet.”

J. Fithian Tatem Elementary Schoolers plant trees at Hopkins Pond on Arbor Day

Haddonfield Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich described Hopkins Pond as a refuge for her family when home-schooling became “a point of crisis and reflection” during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We’d hike in Hopkins Pond,” the mayor said.

“Our greenspace brings us so much joy.”

As much as the planting exercise was educational for children, who took turns shoveling earth, Camden County arborist Dan Nowakowski said it also will help replenish a number of old-growth trees that the park has lost.

“When one dies, that opens up space for undergrowth trees to come up,” he said.

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