Hillcrest High School earns arboretum title, honors slain student on Earth Day

Stephanie Wade Image
Monday, April 22, 2024
Hillcrest High School becomes an arboretum on Earth Day
The school planted the 25th species in memory of Marshawn Mitchell, a student that was shot and killed in September.

COUNTRY CLUB HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- A south suburban school gathered to mark the official opening of the Hillcrest Arboretum on Earth Day.

"This momentous milestone is a testament to our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability," Hillcrest High School Principal Ron Towner said at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

On Monday, students and school leaders stepped outside to plant the 25th tree species on school property and therefore, reaching arboretum status.

The school is now the second high school in Illinois to become an arboretum.

"I've been working closely with the Morton Arboretum and they have supplied all of the trees thus far," Hillcrest High School Ecology Club Sponsor Theresa Kelsey said. "We've planted 15 trees every year for the last five years,"

READ ALSO | The Power of Us: People, Climate and our Future

The last tree planted was in honor of fallen hawk, Marshawn Mitchell.

The 14-year-old freshman had only been at hillcrest high school for three days when he was shot, killed a homecoming football game in September.

Authorities say, Mitchell was not the intended target.

RELATED | FBI opens tip line after Hillcrest HS student shot to death while leaving homecoming football game

"Happy that Hillcrest is continuing to keep his memory alive," Mitchell's mother Amanda Lenoir said. "Me and my family we will always come back here to put flowers down next to the plaque and we're going to keep Marshawn's memory alive."

So far, the school has planted 60 trees on school property and plan to continue planting more for years to come.