An honor for Marie Land

by | December 14, 2018 6:00 pm

Last Updated: December 13, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Marie Land wears her crown as she poses in front of the planted tree with Mrs. Bakers first grade class.

The City of Manning honored Marie Land on Friday when they planted two Chinese Elm trees in her honor. The first was planted at The Manning Early Childhood Center (MECC) and the second at the Marie Land Habitat Village, a small neighborhood of Habitat for Humanity homes named in Marie Land’s honor.

“We are here today for a special occasion. We are going to plant this tree in honor of a very special lady: Mrs. Land,” said MECC Principal Otis Reed. “I know you know her very well. She does a lot for us at MECC. To show our appreciation of that, along with the City of Manning and the Chamber of Commerce, we are going to plant this tree in her honor.”

During the ceremony at MECC, several classes gathered to participate, each taking a portion of the tree to compare to Land. First up was Rhonda Joyner’s Montessori class of three- to five-year-old students.

“Roots are strong. Roots help us grow big and tall, just like you,” said the students to Land.

Darle Blakely’s first grade class followed. Three students made brief statements comparing Land to the branches of the tree.

“A branch is an important part of the tree,” said the first student. “You are important to us because you teach us so much about gardening.”

“A branch lifts the leaves up to the sun,” said the second student. “You lift each of us and help us shine by always giving us compliments and encouraging us.”

“A branch is strong,” said the third student. “You are strong for our education.”

Mrs. Baker’s first grade class went next, offering words comparing Land to the trunk of the tree.

“The Chinese Elm is graceful. Mrs. Land, you are graceful,” said the students. “The Chinese Elm trunk is strong. Mrs. Land, you are strong. The Chinese Elm’s bark is beautiful. Mrs. Land, you are beautiful. Thank you, Mrs. Land!”

Savannah Hetzel, teacher of another three- to five-year-old Montessori class, read about the reasons why Land is like the leaves of the Chinese Elm.

“Leaves bring beauty and grace to the trees. Leaves help the trees stay alive. Just like the leaves, Mrs. Land gracefully brings beauty to our school through these gardens and teaches us about it, helping us to keep them alive,” said Hetzel. “Leaves also symbolize growth, just like the growth in knowledge she has provided to us. We have learned important life skills which we will use for the rest of our lives, as well as the importance of eating healthy. Leaves provide food and keep the tree healthy, just as Mrs. Land brings food through our garden to keep our gardeners healthy. Leaves are so important to the entire tree, and without a doubt, Mrs. Land is just as important for our school.”

“We love you, Mrs. Land,” shouted her students.

Rosalin Blair’s kindergarten class compared the crown of the tree to Land, and the students presented Land with a crown they had made for her.

“The crown reaches over all the other plants,” said Blair.

“Just like you reach to all of us,” responded her students.

“The crown’s leaves grow upward and outward,” said Blair.

“Just like your love for the garden,” responded her students.

“Lastly, the crown has a strong central trunk,” said Blair.

“Your strong belief makes us blossom,” responded her students.

Kelli Bellant, kindergarten teacher, offered a closing statement.

“All of the parts of the strong elm tree signify the great heart. The elm tree is perfect to symbolize Mrs. Land, for the elm and Mrs. Land have much in common. Elm is the arbitrator, which listens without judgment. Many times, Mrs. Land has listened to us without judgement. The elm symbolizes inner strength, intuition and wisdom. If you’ve ever had a conversation with Mrs. Land, you know that she has lots of wisdom: lots of it,” said Bellant.

“It is rare that a tree can do better than elm in defending interests of family or a close group. Mrs. Land has taken Manning Early Childhood Center under her wing and has given us lots and lots of interest for our close group. It stands to the last and will continue to fight, even in hopeless situations,” said Bellant.

“As we dedicate this magnificent elm tree to Mrs. Land, it is important to note the qualities they share. Every time we see the elm, we will be reminded of the goodness that Mrs. Land has put into the gardening effort with students at Manning Early Childhood Center. Thank you, Mrs. Land, for all the dedication, wisdom, effort and, above all, love you have shared with us throughout the years,” said Bellant.

The tree was then placed in the ground, and Land used it as another teaching moment for the students, explaining each part of the process.

“I think it’s a great thing, and we are honored they asked us to do this here at MECC,” said Reed. “Mrs. Land does so much for us on a daily basis. She deserves every bit of recognition she can get for the work she does here. Our teachers appreciate her, our students appreciate her and as principal, I appreciate all she does for us.”

“I’m very honored and very humbled,” said Land. “I think it’s very special. This is a wonderful school. The teachers are so enthusiastic about it. It’s one thing to come and do something with the children, but when the teachers get excited, it’s wonderful. We’re learning together, and it’s great.”

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