Oxford Academy Tree Dedication & Sponsorship

Dedication group for the Oxford schools tree dedication ceremony
Present for the tree dedication ceremony were (from left to right):
Mark Hine, Doris Potter, Jo Herfort, Gray Stevens, John Godfrey and Mike Douglass

During the Oxford Academy's Dedication Celebration on Saturday, June 12th, two special tree dedication ceremonies took place. The idea for specially dedicated trees, was originally thought of by Mrs. Doris Potter, 1953 Class President, during their 50th class reunion in 2003. Mrs. Potter said, "We wanted something really permanent and long lasting to donate to the new school, so we contacted Mr. Stevens." Oxford Academy Superintendent, Gray Stevens was in touch with school Board of Education member and member of the Village Tree Board, John T. Godfrey, who had the same thought. The idea became a reality from there.

Well in advance, a pair of 'Crimson King' Norway Maple trees were carefully selected by three experienced authorities. John Godfrey, worked with Community Horticulture and Natural Resources Extension Educator (and authority on tree management) J. Rebecca Hargrave of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, to draw up schematic plans to landscape the High School with substantial trees, shrubs, and ornamentals. Also consulting with and purchasing the specimens was, Preston landscaper, Joe Ivans. The two handsome and hardy trees were chosen, and planted in advance, by Mr. Ivans with great care. It was important that the trees be sizable, 2-2.5" trunks, for durability under many conditions. Under the direction of Mr. Godfrey, to ensure the success of these and future trees, the entire landscape was prepared ahead of time, by removing construction fill and replacing it with proper top soil at specific locations. All tree sites were carefully marked in anticipation of future sponsored trees according to Hargrave's schematic.

The Crimson King maples possess two especially important landscaping attributes to Oxford Academy. First, they match trees already in the Primary school landscape, which will give a cohesive appearance. The second is the species' very distinct coloring. The outstanding deeply lobed leaves, open bright red, later turning to rich dark crimson (nearly black) foliage. This cleverly coordinates with the Oxford Academy's red and black colors, which were incorporated into the design of the new High School building.

Norway Maples, or Acer platanoides, are originally from Europe, and have a distinctive and long history. They were introduced to the American northeast in a 1762 garden catalog by John Bartram of Philadelphia. The Norway Maple wood is noted for having a musical connection as well. The unusually decorative grain pattern, or "fiddle-back" figure, was most likely used by Antonio Stradivarius for his famous violins.

Herfort memorial tree
Lion's Club members John Godfrey, Gray Stevens, Mike Douglass, Jo Herfort, and Ava Douglass posing near the tree dedicated to Dick Herfort's memory.

With its long history and musical connection, no tree seemed to be more fitting than the 'Crimson King' to honor the memory of Richard A. Herfort. The tree dedication ceremony began, at 2:30pm, with a speech by John Godfrey. Representing the Oxford Lion's Club, and dedicating the tree in Mr. Herfort's memory, was his wife, Jo Herfort, Lion's Club (past) President, Michael Douglass, as well as the Lion's Treasurer, Ava Douglass. Representing the Oxford Academy as well as the Lion's Club was the High School Principal and Lion's Club President, Mark Hine, and the Superintendent of Schools and 3rd Lion's Club Vice President, Gray Stevens. John Godfrey is also a member of the Lion's Club.
Mr. Herfort passed away March 26th, 2004. Dick was a US Army Air Force veteran of World War II, and a life member of Fort Hill Post #376, of the Oxford American Legion. He was a charter member, past president, and life member of the Oxford Lions Club and served District 20-Y1 as District Governor in 1980-81. He was the founder of the Multiple District 20 (NYS and Bermuda) Lions Youth Band and served as director for 26 years. He was involved in so many musical groups, among them were the Ox4Tones, the Oxford Community Band, the Norwich City Band, the Westchester County Symphony Orchestra, and the Delaware County Men's Chorus, to name a few. He directed the Oxford Academy Bicentennial Band, the Chenango County Bicentennial Band, the Chenango County Concert Band and the Chenango County Chorus. He served as a NYSSMA brass and woodwinds adjudicator for 35 years. He was an instrumental music instructor for 55 years, teaching in several area schools, but he will be remembered in Oxford for his teachings at the Oxford Academy and Central School. He was an outstanding member of the community, contributed greatly to Oxford Academy, and will be remembered always.

Crimson Maple dedicated to the Class of 1953
Class President of 1953, Doris Potter, poses here with Gray Stevens and John Godfrey by the maple dedicated to the Oxford Academy, class of 1953.

The second Crimson King Maple was donated by the Oxford Academy Class of 1953.
Since they were instrumental in formulating the idea of different Alumni Classes of Oxford Academy donating trees to the school, it seemed fitting that the first alumni sponsored tree for the Dedication be in recognition of that class and their idea. Representing the Class of '53, Class President, Doris Potter, was on hand for the dedication.

The two new maple trees honoring the memory of Richard A. Herfort and recognizing the Oxford Alumni Class of 1953, are on opposite sides of the entrance, in front of the Oxford Academy High School. Plaques to identify the dedications will be added shortly.

How can you sponsor a tree?

If other Oxford Alumni classes, groups, businesses, or individuals are interested in dedicating a living tree to commemorate a class, remember a loved one, or just to dedicate a tree to the school, please contact the Village Hall [ vgoxford@stny.rr.com], (607) 843-2512 to make arrangements with the Tree Board. Many trees and shrubs (from Rebecca Hargrave's plan), can be selected from. A custom-made brass dedication plaque with up to four lines, attached at the base of the tree, will accompany the chosen specimen.