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5/15/2014 4:01:00 PM
St. Paul eighth graders embrace community
St. Paul School photoThe class of 2014 from St. Paul School, Eugene.
St. Paul School photo
The class of 2014 from St. Paul School, Eugene.
St. Paul School photo
St. Paul Students plant trees in community
St. Paul School photo
St. Paul Students plant trees in community
Students weathered rain and mud to plant trees
EUGENE — On a rainy day just before spring, the third, fourth, seventh and eighth grade classes from St. Paul School here planted trees as part of an initiative led by the Eugene Parks and Open Space Division.

Goal of the project is to replace the hundreds of trees lost in this year’s winter storms and to increase the number of trees in the urban forest. About 135 student, teacher and parent volunteers planted 37 trees at Ascot Park. The trees were specifically selected to withstand dry summers, including native Oregon white oaks and white alders.

The efforts of the St. Paul volunteers helped Eugene garner its 35th Tree City USA award.
Mayor Kitty Piercy honored the students for their hard work by holding a small presentation on National Arbor Day, which included a flag unfolding, guest speakers from the Oregon Department of Forestry and a proclamation to the students from the mayor.

EUGENE — As the school year is coming to an end, eighth graders at St. Paul School are looking back and reflecting on experiences. A common theme that resurfaced is Family Groups, a monthly gathering in which eighth graders lead a small group of students in prayer and an activity. Each family group has one student from every class at St. Paul, ranging from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.

“Family groups bring together a group of people that normally wouldn’t have talked to each other,” says eighth grader Julia Mellendy.

The wide range of age can make bonding difficult at school, but Family Groups provide an opportunity to build a community. The positive effects are clear. Eighth graders roam the halls and are bombarded by younger students waving and giving hugs.

Caitlyn Kirk knows how big this small gesture is.

“I remember when I was little, Family Groups made the older kids seem less scary,” Kirk says. “Now that I’m an eighth grader I want to do the same for the younger kids. I want to be nice to them and make them feel comfortable and confident.”

As the eighth graders approach graduation they are starting to recognize the significance of Family Groups for their individual growth.

“We learn leadership and how to communicate effectively,” said eighth grader Brooke Kline. “Family Groups give you an opportunity to work with people of all ages and skill levels, and that will help us when we are in high school, when we have jobs and when we volunteer in the community.”

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