May 02, 2016 3:30PM
When a group of graduating Pittsburg State University seniors decided they wanted to show their gratitude to the university, they decided the perfect gift would be a tree.
“A tree is really reflective of our time here on campus,” said Sydney Lemos, a finance major from Coffeyville. “We’ve seen so much growth on campus and we’ve grown, personally and academically at the same time.”
Lemos said the seniors, including herself, Ryan Schulteis, Trista Dugan, Viet Nguyen, Emely Flores, and T.J. Graber, began thinking of the project in February. They worked with PSU’s Development Office to reach out to fellow members of the Class of 2016 through an online funding effort, which, Lemos said, has just reached its $2,000 goal.
Lemos said the leadership team worked with Cate Walker, PSU’s grounds and maintenance supervisor, to pick the best tree for the local climate and the space selected, which is on the Oval, near the southwest corner of the Overman Student Center.
The tree the students chose is an Autumn Splendor Caddo Maple, which was named the 2008 tree of the year for Kansas by the Kansas State Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension Service because of its drought tolerance and superior performance in heat and wind. The tree is known for its red and orange fall color and rapid growth rate.
Lemos, who confesses to already feeling nostalgic about leaving the campus that she has come to love, said she looks forward to returning to PSU in future years to see how the tree and the campus has grown. She said she hopes the tree and the plaque that identifies it will be an inspiration to future classes.
“We want to inspire other classes to give back to the university and also to let them know what a special place this truly is,” Lemos said.
The Senior Class Gift leadership team will hold a short tree-planting ceremony at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, just southwest of the Overman Student Center.