School 'icon' may be a thing of the past

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By Gabriel Vasquez

What students, staff and parents have been referring to as an “icon” of Piñon Elementary School has been put on the chopping block.

The 40-something-year-old willow tree still standing in the courtyard of the White Rock school may soon be just a memory.

Its expanding roots now pose a problem to the school’s infrastructure.

“It’s a symbol of our school,” said eighth-grader Emily McClenehan, who now attends Los Alamos Middle School. “Everyone really loves the tree. It means a lot to all the kids.”

McClenehan and a group of about 14 other students staged a protest Monday morning, circling the tree and holding hands as construction crews came to rip it from the ground.

“I just kind of told a bunch of people to show up,” McClenehan said. “Some of them did; some of them didn’t. Now they’re going to postpone the project.”

The tree, now disfigured as a result of preliminary cutting done last week to facilitate its total removal, has been a traditional meeting place for students, and even a learning aid for some science classes.

“The construction crews already chopped the top off of it,” said parent David Shepard. “It’s ugly – miserable. All the students are up in arms about this.”

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