Stump bad, seniors sad


Kaden Brastow

The senior tree before and after recent cuts for its health.

The senior tree watched over us for 57 years, watching us grow and branch out beyond the confines of sleepy San Anselmo. But now, bald and shrinking, its statue has been reduced. It still humbly stands, hoping to age in place, battling a horrific disease, but the prognosis is grim. 

Our school’s symbol of spirit and seniority underwent devastating changes on Jan. 18. The Senior Tree lost its entire canopy of upper branches due to a determination that the tree was unsafe.

During a routine trim, the company contracted by the school district found that the upper branches on the southwest side of the tree had decayed and were in danger of falling. The tree trimmers recommended removing the tree immediately. Because of the significance of the Senior Tree, the Drake administration requested a second opinion on the matter and received the same recommendation. 

  “Both reports say it either needs to be removed immediately or fixed immediately for safety concerns,” said Assistant Principal Chad Stuart. 

They also had to cut the branches on the opposite side in order to keep the tree balanced. The trunk itself is healthy, so for now, the tree can remain stumpy. 

One plausible reason for the tree’s demise originated almost exactly 20 years ago. In June of 2000, four seniors drilled holes into the trunk and roots and injected battery acid as part of a rogue senior prank. Whether the tree was going to survive was unclear even then, according to the Marin IJ’s report on the incident. It is unknown whether that is the cause of the tree’s current peril. 

The Drake administration has no intention of taking any further action anytime soon. 

“Our goal is to see if new branches sprout up in the next couple years,” Stuart said. If they do, it could be up to ten years before the tree looks normal again. 

Current seniors have varying opinions about what to do. Ideas range from building a treehouse to decorating it with Mardi Gras necklaces. Although the senior tree is important to the student body, some think the school should replace it with a new one. 

“I think we should cut down the tree and plant a new one to signify new beginnings,” senior Amir Barkan said. 

Other students are hesitant to replace such an iconic element of the campus. 

“If you had a dog that was sick, would you replace it with a better one?” senior Max Hamblin said, who believes students should devote resources to improving the tree and even decorating rather than replacing it. 

Unless enough students mobilize to support planting a new tree in the next few months, the legacy of the senior tree in the minds of current seniors will forever be the senior stump.