Tree in quad cut down during spring break


Alex Youn

A 40 year old oak tree in the Quad was cut down during spring break after being deemed in a state of distress for the past decade. There are currently no known plans for the freshly cleared land.

by Maya Valluru , Asst. News Editor

Students arrived on campus after spring break on Monday to see that the oak tree in the Quad next to the kiosk was cut down while school was out of session.

Facility director Mike Bassoni explained that maintenance had been trying to revive the tree for several years but ultimately had to remove it.

“The oak tree was deemed in distress nearly 10 years ago. We have made extensive efforts to save the tree over that period,” he said. “Unfortunately our certified arborist determined that it was at a state to be considered unsafe and unsalvageable.”

He then went into further detail about the exact illness the plant was suffering from.

“The tree basically died from oak root fungus,” he said. “That form of fungus exists throughout much of California. It can lay dormant in the soil for decades before being triggered by specific environmental conditions. Once it attacks a tree, it is virtually unstoppable. An oak can be in decline from this condition for 10 years or longer but will eventually die. For the safety of the Harker community, we were forced to take the tree down.”

According to biology teacher Dr. Kate Schafer, the tree was about 40 years old, planted around the early 1970s in the same place it stood only about a week ago. Keep in mind: this means that the tree was planted at around the same time many of our parents were born.

Dr. Schafer brought her third period biology class to examine the colony of formica ants, named for the smell of the formic acid within their bodies, that she explained have been living in the trunk for several of years.

Later, the group of students was joined by chemistry teacher Andrew Irvine who allowed the giant formic ants to crawl all over his arms.

Several students found the event shocking, with some explaining the deep sentiment they held towards the tree in relation to their high school experience.

“My friends and I sat around this tree on the first day of school and we called it ‘Trina’,” Prameela Kottapalli (9) said. “Now that it’s gone, it fills my heart with nostalgia and little bit of sadness—but then I realize that all good things must end. It’s like the circle of life.”

Check back with Harker Aquila soon for more updates on the plans for this cleared land.