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St. Mary’s blessed with chokecherry tree

By June 20, 2024No Comments
Sid Diebert and Frank Spenrath, who graduated from St. Mary’s Elementary School in 1973, returned to the school last Friday to help students plant a chokecherry tree they donated as a symbol of their fond memories while attending St. Mary’s. Taylor Weaver Meridian Source Photos


The best time to plant a tree might be 20 years ago, but the impact left on students who graduated from St. Mary’s Elementary School just over 50 years ago is ensuring students their future will be made in the shade.

Sid Diebert and Frank Spenrath, two graduates of St. Mary’s class of ’73, got back to their roots last Friday afternoon as they planted a Canada Red Chokecherry tree with the help of Diebert’s wife, Betty, and a handful of staff and students.

“Today we are so blessed because we have former students from the class of 1973 who went to St. Mary’s,” said St. Mary’s principal, Sue Grams. 

“This fall, they came back and had a nice evening where they celebrated the 50-year anniversary of their graduation, and as a way of giving back to the school where they had fond memories, they are planting a tree, so we will never forget them; it’s also a nice remembrance for our students.”

Grams explained the tree symbolizes all of the wonderful memories students had at the school 50 years ago, while still having an impression on graduates 50 years later. 

“For them to come back and celebrate with us and plant a tree in their memory, it also shows our students it was great now, but it was great back then, too.”

For Diebert, the planting of the tree represented a commemoration of his class reunion.


Students from St. Mary’s Elementary School let out a big THANK YOU to the class of ‘73 for donating and helping plant a tree on the school’s playground.


“When you see a monument or a plaque, it represents history and the past,” said Diebert, explaining he and Spenrath loved the help they received from two St. Mary’s students.

“We liked that aspect of it a lot; the kids were very enthused about it and they thought it was neat to be asked.”

Diebert also joked how, to a kid, 50 years can seem like a lifetime, which also gave some perspective on the impact the school left on students. 

“One of the students even came up after we planted the tree and took a picture of it,” said Diebert. 

“He said he was excited to get home and tell his parents about the experience, and that’s what it’s all about.”  

Ryan Tocker and Ryan Starko, who sometimes go by Ryan-squared, got their hands dirty helping Diebert and Spenrath dig and plant the tree before a group picture with their peers.

“We’re just about to graduate from this school, so it’s a nice memory for us to have,” said Tocker, who hopes the school’s chokecherry will grow to be as big as the one at the lake.

“I hope the tree is really tall in 50 years so it can give a lot of shade,” added Starko when asked what he hopes the tree looks like half a decade down the road. 

“Maybe I’ll have a kid one day and maybe they’ll go to school here and get to enjoy the tree.”