SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Julia Pappalardo, a 5th grader at Terrill Middle School in Scotch Plains, has been named on of the winners of the Union County's annual Arbor Day Poetry Contest.

One winner was chosen for first, second, and third place at each grade level.  The winners are invited to attend a virtual awards ceremony on April 29th at 7:00 p.m., and will be publicly recognized by the Union County Board of County Commissioners. 

4th grade winners:

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  1. The Four Seasons by Madison Sartoretti of Valley Road School, Clark, NJ supervised by teacher, Janeen Allmendinger.
  2. Trees Matter by Olesia Patterson of Jerome Dunn Academy School #9 supervised by teacher, Marianne English.
  3. Arbor Day by Sahana Iyer of Thomas P Hughes Elementary School supervised by teacher, Andrea Masri. 

5th grade winners:

  1. A Tree Limerick by Taylor Tripet of Thelma Sandmeier Elementary School in Springfield, NJ supervised by  teacher, LeEtta Palumbo.
  2. Trees by Julia Pappalardo of Terrill Middle School, Scotch Plains, NJ supervised by  teacher, Erika Vaughn. 
  3. Yoga Tree by Twana Tsuro of Thelma Sandmeier Elementary School in Springfield, NJ supervised by teachers, Anthony Scarppelli and Linda Schmidt.

6th grade winners:

  1. I Cannot Imagine a World without Trees by Morgan Sinclair from Orange Ave. School, Cranford, NJ supervised by teacher, Liz Chandler.
  2. Untitled  by Sharika Dhar of Columbia Middle School, Berkley Heights, NJ supervised by  teacher, Belinda Healey.
  3. A Helping Hand by Michelle Paida of the Queen City Charter School, Plainfield, NJ supervised by  teacher, Schuyler Davis.

7th grade winners

  1. Masterpiece by Olivia Castro of Lincoln Ave. School, Garwood, NJ  supervised by  teacher, Tamara Benc. 
  2. The Importance of Trees by Kayla Hill of Maxson Middle School, Plainfield, NJ supervised by  teacher, Jan Gwyn-Thompson. 
  3. Beautiful Trees by Karen Luna of Abraham Lincoln School # 14 of Elizabeth supervised by teacher, Miss Tavormina.

8th grade winners

  1. The Life You Give by Jadali Feliciano of Joseph Battin School #4, Elizabeth supervised by teacher, Shara Greenberg. 
  2. Tree by Fransisco Villalta Escobar of Maxson Middle School, Plainfield, NJ supervised by teacher,  Mrs. Menon.
  3. Delightful Days by Nyla Castro, Lincoln School, Garwood, NJ supervised by teacher, Tamara Benc.

The contest was open to students in grade 4-8. There were 130 entries in all. Julia has been congratulated by her teachers and administrators for her accomplishment and fantastic poem.

"After much anticipation, we were so excited to find out that Julia won and was part of the top three fifth graders in the county," said her teacher, Erika Vaughn. "Julia's poem was thoughtful and demonstrated her understanding of our environmental discussions within the classroom. Her accomplishment regarding this poem also displays her awareness concerning the power of words."

"Terrill Middle School is very proud of Julian and her accomplishment. We are ecstatic that Julia seized the opportunity to be a part of the Union County Arbor Day Poetry Contest.  Her voice is clearly evident through her poem, and it sends a resounding message of awe at wonder of nature and the care and compassion she has for the planet," says Terrill Middle School Principal Kevin Hollaway. 

Below is a copy of Julia's poem:

I change


The seasons,

And of course I have my reasons,

I like to change it up so

Sometimes I have green leaves,

Sometimes brown,

Sometimes fiery red,

Or orange, yellow or even pink,

Some are even surrounded by a chain link

I stare at people who cut trees down

And it seems quite mean

To cut down trees, 

I can see there rings to tell how old they were,

Those old trees have seen hot summers and cold winters

Sometimes there’s hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of rings 

And I’d love to see you bring a new tree

I have seen so many fall down to the ground,

But I’ve also seen some trees get planted, 

Big or small

Sometimes they're by the mall,

A stall

And of course they can be very tall

Some people will be on calls               

As they sit against me

And I must admit, I really hope to see them plant more trees!

“Arbor Day is a national celebration of environmental stewardship, and trees are a valuable resource in our densely developed area,” said Union County Commissioners Chair Al Mirabella. “On behalf of the Commissioner Board I would like to thank all the students who participated, for helping to raise awareness about the importance of trees in our community, and beyond.”