In Memoriam: The Mighty Oak

“And the boy loved the tree…….very much. And the tree was happy.” 
Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

 After the long summer break, DHS students were eager to start their new classes and return to their second home on Walmsley Ave. However, students noticed that one special part of Dominican was missing. The iconic water oak tree, which has been shading Dominican students for decades, was put to rest. Because it was stricken with fungi and disease, the beloved tree had to be taken down.


The beloved water oak, which stood in front of the Siena Center, was taken down in August prior to the first day of school. After the tree surgeon examined the tree, they knew “it was time,” according to Mrs. Thomson. 


Even though many mourn the loss of this tree, the removal was in the best interest of the Dominican community, according to Mrs. Catherine Thomson, Vice President, Finance/CF.  The administration called a tree surgeon to examine the sick tree, and it was indeed rotting from the inside out, dropping large branches one by one. “It was a sad day,” said Mrs. Thomson. “Many friendships were made under that tree.”

For years, students made many memories under this tree: gathering for lunch, studying during free period and talking with friends after school.  “After school I’d sit under the tree and do homework,” said senior class coordinator Camryn Wizniewski. “It was a peaceful and beautiful spot where I could relax.”


Documenting their memory of seniors’ last day, Kate Alexander (’17), snaps a selfie with her mother and Dean of Students Mrs. Katey Alexander (’91). “This tree was part of our DHS community,” said Mrs. Alexander. “If the tree could talk, it would have many stories to tell.”

Even in class, the tree played a role. “The tree was home to our end-of-the-year Spanish fiesta, where we feasted on chips and guac and delicious Spanish cuisine,” said junior Tai Sutherland. “It was a great area to spend time with my classmates.”

The tree was popular spot to take pictures on many Dominican occasions. “My favorite memory of the tree was on the first day of eighth grade,” said senior Alexandra Minnard. “It was under this tree on orientation day where I met many good friends.” Each Dominican student associates the tree with a specific memory she holds close to her heart.

Current students and alumnae alike mourn the passing of the tree. “It was such a beautiful tree, and it represented the history of DHS,” said Ms. Kathryn Engro (’15). “I cannot even picture campus without the tree there, and I know the first time I see it gone, I will get a little choked up.”

According to Mrs. Thomson, the school is unable to plant another tree in the area where the water oak had been because of the existing fungi. However, plans are in the works to implement another source of shade for students.

  • Kathryn Valldejuli