Monday, May 07, 2018

Boston Public Schools Celebrates Japanese Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony

Boston Public Schools Celebrates Japanese Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony
Irving Middle School Is Seventh Beneficiary of Years-Long Commitment by Fish Family Foundation
BOSTON — Monday, May 7, 2018 — Today, for the seventh straight year, Boston Public Schools (BPS) hosted a Japanese cherry tree planting ceremony at one of its schools. This year, the Washington Irving Middle School in Roslindale received five cherry trees from the Fish Family Foundation, as part of a years-long commitment by the organization.

The original partnership began in 2012, to commemorate the centennial of the Mayor of Tokyo gifting the city of Washington, D.C. with the ornamental trees in 1912. The gesture served as an act of goodwill to strengthen and celebrate the nations’ burgeoning relationship.

“Japan holds a special place in my heart. To the Fish Family Foundation and me, these cherry trees are a symbol of friendship between Boston and Japan,” said Atsuko Fish of the Fish Family Foundation. “These students who are learning the Japanese culture and the Japanese language will enjoy cherry blossoms every year and be inspired to be a bridge between the two cultures. That is already making them one step closer to being global citizens. We’re celebrating the limitless potential for their bright futures.”

Following the first ceremony in 2012 at the Charles H. Taylor Elementary School in Mattapan, the Fish Family Foundation agreed to provide trees to elementary and middle schools in the district that offer Japanese language classes. The five-year agreement was intended to last through the spring of 2016, but the Foundation was so impressed by the school community’s response at each ceremony, that Ms. Fish extended commitment in 2017, and again this year.

“Over the years, the Fish Family Foundation has demonstrated a continued commitment to our community,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I’m grateful for all the work they do in sharing cultural traditions and broadening the horizons of our students.”

Owed to the transient beauty of their blossoms, cherry trees are an integral part of hanami, the centuries-old Japanese custom of flower viewing. The Fish Family Foundation has now brought that tradition to seven Boston Public Schools, donating 42 trees in total.

“For the past several years, the BPS community has looked forward to this springtime tradition with the Fish Family Foundation,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “We’re grateful for their partnership and the joy that these cherry trees and the planting ceremonies have brought to our students.

The ceremony today began with a few words from Principal Carmen Davis and guest speakers, including Consul Rokuichiro Michii, Consul General of Japan in Boston, and James Reginald Colimon, International Partnerships Manager, City of Boston. Irving students also treated the audience to a cherry blossom song performed in Japanese, led by their teacher Timothy Nagaoka. Students then escorted the dignitaries to the front of the school for the ceremonial planting.

“The bridging of cultures and traditions is always something to be celebrated,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang, who also spoke at the event. “We are so appreciative of the Fish Family Foundation for gifting dozens of beautiful trees to our schools and for continuing to serve as a partner to the BPS community.”

The schools that previously received trees from the foundation were the Charles H. Taylor Elementary School in Mattapan in 2012, James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury in 2013, William E. Channing Elementary School in Hyde Park in 2014, Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston in 2015, James W. Hennigan K-8 School in Jamaica Plain in 2016, and John W. McCormack Middle School in Dorchester in 2017.

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