We have been discovering fun symbolism related to our school name (Cottonwood), our new mascot (Hawks), and the horseshoe as a representation of our value of inclusiveness.

 Last week, I was forwarded the picture you see to the right (click on it for a close-up). It shows the star that can be found at the center of the twigs of the cottonwood tree. How cool is that! I decided to fact-check before sharing it with you and learned that the cottonwood tree has some remarkable history. Its star isn’t a myth; it’s a legend, quite literally. The Cheyenne and Arapaho (the Plains Indians) have passed down the legend of the cottonwood star through the generations.

 “All things come from Mother Earth. Stars are no exception. They form secretly in the earth and then drift along just under the surface until they find the roots of the magical cottonwood tree. They enter the roots and slowly work their way up through the tree. Finally, they come to rest in the small twigs at the end of the branches. Here they wait patiently until they are needed. Then when the ‘Spirit-of-the-night-sky’ decides she needs more beautiful stars to light up the heavens, she calls on the Wind-spirit to help her, and he sends wind gusts so hard that the twigs of the cottonwood tree begin to break off. As each twig breaks off, the stars are released and race up to a special place in the sky. Now the new stars twinkle brightly with a thank-you.”

 We believe that within each of our students and families, there are stars waiting to be released as they learn and grow. We look forward to highlighting our school’s Cottonwood Stars in this weekly newsletter. We’d love you to tell us about your stars here.

 To learn more about the fascinating history of the cottonwood tree — like how they were used for canoes as well as medicinal teas — read here and here.

 Here is a lesson plan you can use with your star students.

— Kara Parkins, Family Support Advisor