STA to become arboretum in honor of 150th anniversary

Biology, theology and design apartments partner to complete newfound arboretum initiative.


illustration by Ellie Grever

by Mackenzie O'Guin, Design Editor

In honor of Academy 150, the celebration of STA’s 150th anniversary, STA has initiated a multi-departmental project to turn the campus into an arboretum, defined by STA biology teacher Mary Montag as “a place that has intentionally preserved specific trees and shrubs for educational and scientific purposes.”

“An arboretum must be designated by certain criteria such as amount and types of trees,” Montag said. “We are relying on our landscape architect to help with the moralities of this process.”

“The project includes adding new trees to the campus, pruning and caring for the older trees, adding a published map of all the trees on campus…and creating a contemplative path for people to walk when on campus.” STA President Nan Bone said.

Though the project is still in a developmental stage, according to Bone, it was originally conceptualized in 1910 Sister Evelyn O’Neil, visionary STA botany teacher responsible for moving STA from its downtown location to its present campus.

“[Sister Evelyn O’Neil’s] hope was to have a combination of ‘a thousand trees and bushes on campus’,” Bone said. “Our goal in this 150th anniversary year is to help fulfill her dream.”

According to Bone, the biology, theology and design departments are working in tandem to bring the project to fruition.

Montag and fellow STA biology teacher Renee Blake and the biology students are “identifying trees already on campus to under their role in ecology”, whereas Head of Campus Ministry Meredith Snyder has enlisted the help of her Ministry and Service Practicum students to collect prayers focusing on “spiritual tree symbolism and environmental consciousness” for the aforementioned meditative walk.

“I was considering structuring it similar to Stations of the Cross,” Snyder said. “We might also have single prayers for someone who might only want to participate in one reflection.”

Graphic Design teacher Kelly Scott has also incorporated student work in her department’s part in the project: two-part programs for the arboretum and accompanying tree walk, as well as the template for the online tree/prayer guide.

“It’s honoring that administration would allow us to contribute to such a big project,” Scott said. “Especially something in honor of the 150th anniversary.”

Community involvement is not limited to specific departments. For example, one can honor a class or friend by buying a tree, according to Bone

“This is one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on at STA,” Bone said. “I hope everyone will get involved in some fashion.”