Planting the Roots of a Generation

Crescendo issue: May 2014
It is no small feat to stand in front of 500 of your peers and offer words.

That feat is made even more impressive when those giving the presentation are doing so in their second - or third - language. Yet, just such a presentation took place during the monthly community meeting when the Academy's ELL (English Language Learners) students helped to lead a special Earth Day presentation. The event was not just a showcase of the students' language skills but a demonstration of their commitment to learning about American history, culture, and the environment.  

The guest of honor at the outdoor event was David Milarch of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive. David has a lot of history with Interlochen. Not only did Archangel donate ancient trees in the early 2000s, David's father helped build Kresge and David met his wife on Interlochen's campus.

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is a non-profit organization that locates and propagates the world’s largest and most iconic trees. They are creating living libraries of old-growth tree genetics by cloning these old growth trees through traditional and advanced horticultural propagation for the purpose of future research and functional reforestation. They promote the use of the right trees for the right application for a balanced, sustainable environment. They seek to replace the natural filter systems of the Earth's water and air to fight global warming caused climate change, and to protect our freshwater ecosystem to restore the health of our planet.

David donated many ancient trees to Interlochen during this latest visit, but it was a song by Emily Spradling and a presentation by a small group of students that left a lasting impression on those gathered.

"I was really impressed with how hard our ELL students worked to make a good presentation," said Marvine Stamatakis, the students' teacher. "The international students are not often asked to participate in a community meeting, so I was really pleased they did such a good job. Students were engaged in the topic and expressed appreciation for the chance to meet David after reading excerpts from his book. They thoroughly enjoyed the visit to his site and they were very impressed with his passion for trees and inspired by his enthusiasm."   

The presentation itself was a breakdown of the history of the environmental movement. The students stated that they began this project with little to no knowledge of the history of this movement, the EPA, or even the decades that they were studying. However, by the end, they not only understood the words that they were asked to read, but the reasons those words were so important.

Not long after the Earth Day presentation, the students visited the Ancient Tree Archive and witnessed, and participated in, the work that happens within their warehouses, the same work that is then spread around the globe. 

To view the community meeting presentation in its entirety, please visit here