I do not take credit for it; the headline here, that is. If you’re a children’s literary buff, or just enjoy his work, you will likely recognize it as the title of the children’s book by Shel Silverstein. “The Giving Tree” is the story of a boy’s friendship with a tree that is continually giving to him, from his childhood when he wanted a place to play until he was an elderly man in need of a place to rest. Fictitious as this tale may be, it made me think of another tree, this one, too, very much a giver.

Magnolia, Ohio, is your everyday small town, and it is home to Sandy Valley High School-Middle School. The school was built a few years ago after a number of area schools were torn down, with the newer facility built for the youth of the communities.


Schools offer us all a lot of memories, and it can be sad to see the building where you spent those, let’s say, high school years, demolished. But an art teacher and former student (now an artist) found a way to memorialize the area schools of the past, giving many of those fond memories back to alumni. This came by way of a tree—an aluminum and glass sculpture that stands outside today’s Sandy Valley High School-Middle School.

The teacher, Judith DiSabato, and former student David McDowell, together with current students and volunteers, created the stained-glass tree sculpture, which includes many parts and pieces from the old schools. Its foundation came from bricks and cornerstones used in former facilities, as did much of the stained glass used in the life-size tree sculpture.

Over the past few months here we’ve been doing a lot of research on school designs and the role glass can play in keeping them safe and secure. While this tree sculpture might not fit into that, trees can often be thought of as a symbol for life, strength, being firmly rooted and grounded. These are all characteristics, I’d say at least, that are also symbolic of schools. Our children go to school to learn and grow, and to hopefully one day be strong and grounded. I like to think this glass tree will be a reminder of that as well.