Grads Plant Roots in Chatham-Kent
Chatham, Ontario - As hundreds graduate from St. Clair's Thames Campus on Saturday, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent wants them to remember that they're roots are planted in the community – both literally and figuratively.

Every year, the municipality plants a tree to commemorate the graduating class at the St. Clair as a symbolic representation of their connection to the area.

"It's a reminder that their roots are always in Chatham-Kent," said Brittany Johnston Coordinator for Community Relations for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

A group of grads and representatives from St. Clair College and the Municipality of Chatham Kent gather for a photo with the commemorative tree.
A group of grads and representatives from St. Clair College and the Municipality of Chatham Kent gather for a photo with the commemorative tree.

The initiative is called "Your Roots Are Always in Chatham-Kent." It celebrates students across Chatham-Kent who are graduating from secondary and post-secondary schools. Each year, the municipality plants trees in honour of ten graduating high school classes in the area along with St. Clair. This is the third year of the initiative and second year St. Clair has been involved.

A tree was planted at the Thames Campus at the end of the winter semester to honour this year's graduates. The initiative aims to encourage graduates to remain connected to Chatham-Kent as they move on to their next ventures.

Stephanie Woodall, Operations Manager for the Thames Student Incorporated, said the initiative is aligned with one of St. Clair's goals – to retain students and keep them living and working in the community.

"The initiative is a way of saying we're rooted, and the Thames Campus is rooted in Chatham-Kent," said Woodall. "It's a great place to stay and live."

The initiative was created in response to the 2012 Chatham-Kent Survey of Young People (15–39 years), conducted by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent's Resident Attraction and Retention (RAR) Division. The survey found that 84 per cent of the respondents stated that they would like to remain connected to Chatham-Kent regardless of where they live and what they do in the future.

St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
St. Clair students participate in the tree-planting ceremony.
A group of grads and representatives from St. Clair College and the Municipality of Chatham Kent gather for a photo with the commemorative tree.
A group of grads and representatives from St. Clair College and the Municipality of Chatham Kent gather for a photo with the commemorative tree.
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