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The purplish pink flowers that bloom next spring will have much significance to the families of Jackie Craine and Jenika Jones.
Those two women – killed earlier this year in separate incidents – were honored during the 2012 Arbor Day celebration Friday, Dec. 7, at Southside Early Childhood Center in Lancaster.
Lancaster Soil and Water Conservation District hosted the event, which saw the planting of an eastern red bud tree on the school’s front lawn.
The program also included songs by Southside students (“I Love This Flag” and “This is the Way We Plant a Tree”), poetry reading by teacher Donna White and an Arbor Day speech by Bill Ardrey, commissioner of the Lancaster Soil and Water Conservation District.
“Strong, sturdy, tough and constant,” Southside Principal Dr. LaVilla Brevard said about the tree. Those traits are also being used to describes the two resilient families as they continue to cope with the loss of a loved one.
In January, Craine, 34, died at a Rock Hill hospital after being found in a parking lot in Fort Mill with a gunshot wound to the head.
Also that month, Jones, 23, was found shot to death on a couch inside her Roseanna Lane home in Lancaster.
“We’re glad we have a tree in her memory,” said Jones’ sister, Lakendra Clyburn. “Her spirit lives on.”
Barbara Green spoke similarly Friday about her sister, Craine.
“We appreciate everything they’ve done,” Green said of Southside and others involved in the Arbor Day program. “We miss Jackie a whole lot. But God is with us.”
About Arbor Day
Arbor Day is a national holiday that began in 1872. National Arbor Day is the last Friday in April. Each state chooses its own day to celebrate; in South Carolina, it’s the first Friday in December.
On those days, people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.
The eastern red bud tree is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, said Amanda Roberts, district manager for the Lancaster Soil and Water Conservation District.
The flowers are purplish-pink in color and the leaves are heart-shaped.
“As this tree grows each year, the leaves will be a symbol of the love this school has for their students, families and community,” Roberts said.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams
at (803) 283-1152