Celebrating 100 graduating classes at Junior Tree Planting Ceremony

The junior class officers and advisors take a picture with the tree. Photo by H.Carnahan/Setonian.

The annual Junior Class Tree Planting Ceremony was held on April 21 on Administration Front Lawn. While this event is tradition every year, this year was special, as the Class of 2018 will be the 100th class to graduate from Seton Hill University.

“We are so honored to be the 100th graduating class,” said Luigi Scognamiglio, vice president of the junior class. “It was very special for me to be able to plant this tree.”

The planted tree is a Crimson King Maple, chosen to supersede another tree in the same location that fell down last year. Scognamiglio also described the importance of the location of the tree: not only is it replacing the old tree, but it is also front and center on campus.

“I feel it was a perfect choice because this tree will have yellow and gold leaves [in the fall], so it will be perfect to commemorate the 100th ‘golden’ graduate class,” said Scognamiglio.

Bill Black, SHU archivist and professor, gave opening remarks along with SHU President Mary Finger.

“This is one of the more sacred spots on campus. I would like to point out that when Mother Lowe, when she first came to Seton Hill, this was only 12 acres of the 200 that was still forested on the other side,” said Black.

According to photographs found in the archives, the yellow wood tree was planted while the Administration Building was being built. This tree is from when Mother Superior Aloysia Lowe of the Sisters of Charity was still alive in the 1880s.

“Ever since then, as anybody who has ever driven up the drive know, the Sisters love trees and always have,” said Black. “They’ve always been concerned with God’s Creation. I think the class is simply carrying on a very good tradition.”

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to replace this tree that has a lot of history with the institution with this new, young and vibrant tree that we will care for,” said President Finger. “I think that one of the things that has struck me during my time here as president is how, when talking to the alumni, they often talk about the first time driving up this driveway and feeling like it’s home. Please know that this is always your home. Thank you so much for your work here as students and for this wonderful gift that enhances our campus.”

Sister Maureen O’Brien gave a blessing on the tree, praying the tree’s roots grow as deep as the students’ roots do on campus. While the chosen tree will be a sapling, it will eventually grow to be between 35 feet and 45 feet, at an average growing rate of two feet per year.

The tradition for the Junior Tree Planting Ceremony started in 1920, in addition to a Senior Ivy Planting at Lowe Hall. The ivy planting has since ended since it proved to be destructive to the walls of Lowe, but trees are still planted every year.

“It was very nice to see many members of the staff, faculty and students from different classes present at the event,” said Scognamiglio. “It made us feel accomplished. Being the 100th graduating class is a big responsibility but I couldn’t ask for better colleagues to share this adventure with. We hope to have more events like this where we can unify the entire school.”

“The great thing about Seton Hill is the community aspect,” added Junior Class President Anna Graziano. “The staff, students and alumni all work in tandem and really come together to give our school a family-like feel. Knowing that I am a part of such a great group of people makes me feel extremely lucky and proud.”

Click here to view more photos of the tree planting ceremony.
Click here to read Annie Meyer’s article about the Nature Club’s seed planting event.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story listed Anna Graziano as junior class vice president, which is incorrect. The story has been updated with Graziano’s correct title of junior class president.

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