Students, Staff and Families at Seven Schools Across OUSD Work to Green Their Neighborhoods and Help Fight Climate Change, Campaign Pays Tribute to Essential Workers


PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, March 23, 2021Contact: John SasakiCommunications Director 510-214-2080[email protected]
Oakland, CA — In what is becoming a tradition in OUSD, students, staff and families are distributing and planting trees that will help improve the environment, and as students have learned, produce fresh air. “Today we’re planting trees so there is less opportunity to get asthma and so that the air can get more moist,” said Santiago Duenas, a third grader at Korematsu Discovery Academy. He and his family picked up a fruit tree at school last Wednesday at their tree distribution event. He was excited to plant it at home saying, “it’s the second one.” Santiago received one of several hundred trees at a distribution event at Korematsu two years ago.Korematsu is one of seven schools giving away a total of 600 trees to their communities this year. The other schools are Esperanza Elementary, Markham Elementary, Hoover Elementary, Prescott Elementary and Melrose Leadership Academy. This week, Montclair Elementary joins the effort with a distribution event scheduled for that school’s students and families.
“We were able to collaborate with Common Vision and Growing Together, and they said, could we plant trees? And let’s do something where we can come together when Covid starts to end, it would be wonderful,” said Dana Hinchliffe, Korematsu 3rd Grade Teacher who is leading her school’s tree distribution effort.

Students are receiving fruit trees, including pomegranate, peach, apple and nectarine trees.
An important feature of this giveaway is something that families are receiving along with the trees. It’s a small metal sign that has a special design created by the students. It’s a pair of open hands with a heart in the middle. It’s a message to all the essential workers who have been giving so much to the Oakland community since the beginning of the pandemic. “The heart means the love that the people that are doing the work are giving us, and the hands represent us giving them back the love and the thank yous,” explained Santiago Duenas.

Hinchliffe adds that this message is especially poignant in the Korematsu community. “Our school has really suffered from Covid, and a lot of the kids’ parents are essential workers, and they struggle, big time.”
During the Korematsu event two years ago, students, families and staff actually ventured into the neighborhood and offered to plant trees in residents’ yards. That’s something that could not happen this year because of Covid. That same year, the students planted numerous trees on the Korematsu campus. Those trees continue to flourish to this day.This time around, not only do the students look forward to having a greener environment with 600 more trees planted, but they will also be able to see their symbolic message of love and appreciation for essential workers in 600 yards across the city.

WHAT: School Community Fruit Tree Distribution Event
WHEN: Noon, Wednesday, March 24
WHERE: Montclair Elementary School, 1757 Mountain Blvd
###About the Oakland Unified School DistrictIn California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success. 

To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit and follow us @OUSDnews.
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