Safety concerns cause front lawn’s 75-year-old oak tree to be cut down
Hillsborough is known for it’s history: its intricate gothic architecture, the iconic clocktower erected in 1949, complex stained-glass windows installed in 1963, and signatures and handprints from the 1960’s forever etched into the sidewalk on the front lawn. These are many Easter-eggs hidden throughout the campus that even non-students come visit. However, there is one component of the school’s extensive history that is often overlooked: the oak tree next to the main entrance. On Monday, November 25, the tree was cut down.
Having sprouted in 1944, the tree had watched over students taking part in walk-outs, picnics, practices, first-kisses, fights, games, photo-shoots and other affairs significant to the school and students for over 75 years. On September 17, 2019, an arborist was called to the school assess the tree’s health, and it was discovered that the tree was dying. “One of the tree’s dominant branches weighs over 6,000 pounds, and it has created a great risk towards both the school itself and its students and staff,” Principal Gary Brady said.
The oak’s trunk had consisted of three separate stems, one of which had died. The oak’s bark was perforated and had begun to fall to the ground, exposing the remaining two stems to the elements and making it a high possibility for them to die, as well. As a result of these factors, along with the tree’s proximity to a highly-trafficked area of the school, the administration made the decision to cutdown the tree entirely. “The oak tree is a part of our history here at Hillsborough High and we are all devastated that it must be removed, however, the safety of our students and staff must be our top priority,” Brady said.
Some students reflected on its importance prior to its dismantlement. “The tree is sort of symbolic for the drill team because we always practice in its shade,” JROTC Battalion Commander and senior Charles Diaz said. “It’s hard to even imagine it not being there.”