In the Fall of 2009, when students in Primary 2 were studying the legendary character, Johnny Appleseed, students decided to enhance their study by planting an apple tree on St. Joseph Montessori School (SJMS) grounds. Under the direction of their teacher, Kathy Koehler, they visited Oakland Nursery and selected a young apple tree. Cecelia Martin, a current fifth grader at SJMS, remembers the tree being only a few feet high when she planted the tree with her classmates as a first grader. For four seasons, the apple tree grew. A few buds and apples started to appear, but only a few.
The new school Librarian, Annie Ruefle, noticed during her first time on recess duty this fall that the apple tree had about twenty-five apples growing on it. She asked students about the tree. Several had said they helped plant the tree five years ago when they were in Primary 2. Kathy explained that this year was the first season a significant number of apples had grown on the tree. Annie asked the Middle School students that had been in Primary 2 at that time, if they would be interested in making pies from the long-ago planted tree. They said yes!
On a beautiful September afternoon, the students picked the apples. Although the tree had grown significantly since 2009, there was no need for a ladder as the 7th grade students could reach the uppermost branches.
Students went to the Library during recess for the next two days. They took turns completing all the jobs required to make a homemade pie: peeling, coring, and slicing the apples; rolling out the homemade pie dough; mixing together the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar; and putting all of that together into the pie pans. It was messy, busy, and lots of fun. It was delicious to sneak a taste of the apples as they were swimming in the cinnamon/sugar mixture!
After the four pies were baked, the students that had helped plant the apple tree over five years ago had a slice of pie. There was enough pie for many of the teachers to have a piece, as well. The pies tasted so good that Matt Brenner, SJMS’s Head of School, asked for a second piece. Nick Rieser, an SJMS 7th grader, said, “It is the best pie ever!”