Middle School Students Help Share ‘Survivor Tree’ Story

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In an effort to enhance students’ sense of community and provide a meaningful lesson on the Middle Years Program design cycle, Long Beach Middle School technology teacher Brian Pross led a collaborative activity with the City of Long Beach. Students constructed a sign for the “Survivor Tree” located at the new 9/11 memorial on Grand Avenue.

The Survivor Tree is a callery pear tree that survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Manhattan. A clipping of the tree was taken and grown into a sapling, then donated and planted at the local site.

Sixth- through eighth-graders took part in designing and constructing the sign. Special attention was paid to corresponding with clients and building a sign that would capture the hearts of the community and endure the brackish air and seasonal weather.

Students constructed a sign in the shape of a pear, created from pieces of the former boardwalk that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. The old boardwalk wood was chosen for its durability and symbolism of Long Beach’s ability to rise from disaster.

Although the actual fruit of the callery pear tree is round, students chose to design the sign in the shape of a more common pear to make it more identifiable. The bottom of the sign was burned to pay homage to the buildings that endured the 9/11 tragedy, and the top was painted green to signify life and regrowth.

Students also built a plaque providing more information for visitors to the memorial. English classes researched the Survivor Tree story and provided the language that was ultimately printed by the technology department on a 3-D printer.

“Relationships were forged and valuable lessons were learned,” Mr. Pross said. “The Long Beach Technology Department is looking forward to its next opportunity to contribute to the community.”