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Friends Academy Says Farewell to Beloved Campus Beech Tree

September 23, 2022

This week, we share some difficult news about our beloved Beech Tree. Although its actual age is unknown, we assume it is well over 100 years old. Regardless of its age, the Beech Tree has played a central role in the life of our campus since Friends Academy moved to 1088 Tucker Road in 1949. The beauty of its expansive canopy, the heft of its trunk, and the obstacle course provided by its gnarled roots have inspired joy and awe in generations of FA students and families.

Friends Academy school photo under the beech tree, September 2022
Full school photo under the beech tree, September 2022

Noticing that the Beech Tree was not showing its typical vitality this past spring, in May we had the Beech Tree assessed by tree experts. This assessment confirmed that our tree was in decline and recommended that we take immediate action to prune the tree’s crown and remove dead limbs. This work was done in June. Unfortunately, the Beech Tree has continued to decline rapidly since then. Over the last two months, additional branches have died back, and most recently, a large limb broke off; fortunately, it was caught by another branch and did not hurt anyone or the building. 

As sacred as the Beech Tree is to Friends Academy, our first duty of care is to the human beings on our campus. The risk of injury to children and adults has become too great, and we need to remove all of the limbs from our beloved tree. This work will take place on Monday, Sept. 26, while we are closed to observe Rosh Hashanah. When we return to school on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the trunk will be all that remains.

Over the past week, students and faculty have been saying goodbye to our old friend -- from reading stories about beloved trees in library to writing poems about the Beech Tree. We also took a whole school photo with the Beech Tree.

From a practical standpoint, Rosh Hashanah provides a day when our campus is free of people. Symbolically, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is understood by Jews in part as an important opportunity to recreate oneself. In this spirit, we are looking forward to seeing how we might transform the trunk of the Beech Tree for this and future generations at Friends Academy. You can look forward to hearing more n the coming months about our ideas for what the tree may become in the future.