Carver Elementary School students and staff celebrated Earth Day by planting a tree in memory of a longtime school employee who recently passed away.
Custodian Jack Belombre, known to students as Mr. Jack, was honored at the Earth Day Tree Dedication Ceremony on Friday, April 22 at Carver Elementary School.
“Our Mr. Jack was devoted to making Carver a safe, clean and beautiful place for children to learn,” Carver Elementary Principal Liz Hollingsworth said. “He passed away in November and we miss him.”
“Jack was an inspiration to thousands of students who attended Carver School,” said Julie Boucher, district assistant superintendent of business services. “Through his great faith and optimism, he encouraged the Carver staff and students to live happy and joyful lives. Jack had an incredible heart and he was extremely giving of his time, talents and abilities.”
Belombre’s wife, Alice, thanked the San Marino Unified School District, specifically Carver Elementary, for supporting and encouraging her husband through the good times and tough times.
“My heart is overwhelmed with joy to see the love displayed for my husband, Jacquelin,” she said. “The impact that he left on San Marino was sincere and heartwarming.”
Carver Elementary Assistant Principal Alana Fauré described the crepe myrtle tree dedicated to Belombre.
“It’s the best kind of tree to plant in Southern California where it’s super, super hot,” she said. “This tree loves hot weather and it puts down strong roots.”
Fauré said the fast-growing tree reminds her of how fast Carver Elementary students grow, mentioning that the tree could grow up to 5 feet in one year and will flower for four or five months.
Carver Student Council members finished planting the crepe myrtle tree with help from the school’s grounds crew. A special stone engraved with Belombre’s name was placed next to the tree.
“Jack had strong roots in his faith and his family,” Hollingsworth said. “He had strong limbs working so hard everyday. When there was a good joke or funny situation, Jack’s laughter brightened our school, just as the colorful flowers will brighten our school for many, many, many, many years to come.”
She read a statement from one of the school’s fourth grade students. It said, “Jack was my favorite custodian. He loved to talk to the kids. He always had a happy smile. He would cheer up everyone’s day. No one had a happier heart than Jack did.”
Retired Carver Elementary teacher Susie Anthony even wrote a poem about Belombre.
Hollingsworth also spoke about the origins of Earth Day at the ceremony.
“Earth Day was established way back in 1970,” she said. “It was a way to celebrate and bring attention to the importance of caring for our earth and our environment by focusing on protecting our environment. Earth Day started as a reaction to a massive, terrible oil spill on the beaches of Santa Barbara.”
Hollingsworth continued, “Today we celebrate Earth Day as a reminder to cherish and to protect our Earth and our environment, to reduce waste, to make better use of our natural resources and to take the time to appreciate the beauty around us.”