It’s autumn. The trees were bright with color, and none more so than the Thankful Trees on the window across the hall from the Northwest bookstore.
“It started out as one tree,” said Vesta Martinez, director of student development services, “but now we have an orchard!”
The arboreal display came about when President Zarina Blankenbaker and her executive team were looking for a way for students to express their thankfulness. “She had the idea of a tree on which students could put leaves saying what they are thankful for,” said Joe Rode, vice president for student development services. “Student Activities said, ‘This will work,’ and now, we’re on our third tree.”
So, what are Northwest students thankful for? A lot!
Families got a lot of attention. My Parents, Mom and Dad, My Big Brother and My Grandparents all came in for thanks. There was even a shout out to “My Dog Poochie.”
Sure to warm the hearts of faculty and staff were comments toward the campus itself. Students expressed thanks for The Lake, Nice Teachers and a Pretty Campus, Good Classmates, and Just Being Here. A couple of evidently successful students were thankful for their university acceptance letters.
Some comments were serious. Life and Liberty were mentioned, but pursuit of happiness somehow got left out. But there were those thankful for Sunshine, What I Have, A Good Job and Surviving Cancer.
Others were decidedly prosaic. Perhaps it was the proximity or aroma of Subway, but some students gave their nods to Jack In The Box, Chocolate and Tacos. Free wifi got several thank yous. Hogwarts’ Ravenclaw House got one.
But if families got lots of attention, so did faith. Many leaves read God, Jesus or the Bible.
“You know, it continually amazes me what our students say,” Rode said. “And I’ll tell you right now that it kind of renews your inner spirit. As I get older and older, I wonder what the world will look like when my grandson goes to college in 10 years. Then I read what the students are writing and I think, ‘It’s going to all right.’”