PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - An Arbor Day celebration Thursday seemed more significant for the third graders at Perkinston Elementary School. They just learned that their words and pictures have blossomed into a beautiful book.
"So this book, with a lot of help, was written and illustrated by you," said Kathryn Lewis, the consultant behind the project.
The idea for the book "The Longleaf and Me A to Z" was planted about two years ago.
"We use the Longleaf Pine tree because it's tall, straight and strong and that's what we are in South Mississippi. We're tall, we're straight and we're strong," said Lewis.
Art and education students at the Perk campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College did the research and the woodblocks on the plants and animals in South Mississippi.
"We're making art real, because we're teaching them skills in the classroom and then we're showing them how they can apply it," said MGCCC Art Instructor Sandra Cassibry.
Those images provided the inspiration for the children at Perkinston Elementary. They created the linocut art and their own reflections.
Fifth grader Kaitlyn Harwell's comments were part of the book.
"It's great, because I like drawing and writing and all that," said Kaitlyn.
To cap off the celebration, the students learned how to plant their own tree at home -- a Long leaf, of course. And every third grader received a copy of the book to take home and treasure.
"It's kind of cool in the book," one boy said.
"Celebrating our ecosystem, teaching children, and making adults even more aware than they are of this wonderful place, south Mississippi," said Lewis. "It's the place we call home."
Third graders at Stone Elementary also received free books and trees Thursday. About 8,000 copies of the book were printed. There is also a music CD, an activity book, and lesson plan for teachers.
Funding for the project came from the Mississippi Power Education Foundation. Other partners include the Mississippi Coastal Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Mississippi Arts Commission.