Since the tradition’s beginning in 1867, every class has adopted a tree. Until recently, the majority of the Class Tree Ceremonies were held during students’ senior year, but the Ceremonies have now been pushed to sophomore year in order to allow students to witness the tree grow and become a part of campus.
Class tree locations are decided by Grounds Manager Dean Jaeger. According to Professor of Biology Mark Schlessman, “If a class comes up with a preferred location, we try to accommodate that.” Jaeger is also in charge of acquiring the tree, tree markers and time capsules. Students decide the species of their class tree from a wide selection. Over recent years, class trees have consisted of the Chinquapin Oak (2019), the Quaking Aspen (2020), the Larch (2021) and the Black Oak (2022). Every ceremony is different, but the constants are the “students, a tree, a class tree marker and using Matthew Vassar’s ‘golden’ spade” to break the ground,” said Schlessman. All members of the class can participate in using the spade and planting the tree. This history, seen by generations of Vassar students, has allowed our campus to blossom and mark stages of time.
On Friday, April 30, I saw my class tree go into the ground near Strong House. I watched my friend Andrew Harvin ’22 hold the golden spade used in these ceremonies to dig into the earth. I even caught a glimpse of the time capsule that we get to open in 50 years (2072). Our tree is the Black Oak, chosen from a list supplied by the Arboretum Committee, and is a native species to New York.
This event ignited my desire to find all of the class trees on campus and present them so that others can experience their beauty. Friday afternoon, my friends Amelia Wright ’22 and Andrew Harvin ’22 and I decided to go on a walk to find every class tree on campus and mark it on a map. It took us about two hours. Though we were not able to cover every corner of campus, we had a great time! We found a ton of class trees, listened to some live music from the nearby Folk Fest and fed the fish of Sunset Lake some bread!
I know this is a trivial and probably boring task for many, but it was a cute almost “scavenger hunt” mission to find all of the class trees, and I had a fun walk around campus.
Here are the locations of the trees I found: