Help Kids Remember Maya Lin Tree

Courtesy photo    The Maya Lin Tree as it appeared prior to its demise on Dec. 16, 2016.

A community fundraiser has been established to replant a coast live oak tree in the playground at Maya Lin School. The tree was felled during a stormy night on Dec. 15, 2016. According to the school’s fundraising page, the tree “was a beloved community landmark and a piece of Alameda history. Its absence is felt every day at the school.”

The loss of the tree immediately spurred several efforts from the school community. Parents and teachers shared pictures, told stories about the tree and planned for ways to utilize the wood for various art projects at the school.

Workers with chainsaws and a large chipper were already on site the next morning to clean up the tree and make the playground safe. Several parents intervened, allowing portions of the tree to avoid the shredder. Several large cross-sections of the trunk, chunks of limbs and sections of the branches were given to every student at the school. 

Principal Goodwin led the students in remembering the tree that morning and many classes developed projects based on what the oak tree meant to the school community.

From the pieces of the trunk and branches that were saved, the school community hopes to build an educational display and community bench. In this way, the tree can live on. Maya Lin parent and talented printmaker, Carrie Sheret, created a series of nine high-quality ink prints on heavy cotton paper. The original prints are available for sale and some will be auctioned off. One original print will be donated to the school. Copies of the prints are for sale as posters, greeting cards and postcards to support the school’s efforts to remember the tree. Visit https://mayalintree.wordpress.com to order.

For more than 150 years the majestic oak tree grew in Central Alameda. In 1909, Washington Elementary School was established on the site. In 1955, when the tree was already around 90 years old, a new Washington Elementary School was built around the oak tree. The school was renamed Maya Lin Elementary school in 2012. The tree stood in the playground for a total of 107 years.