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Mighty oak tree honors Ariana's memory

Berger Elementary has another beautiful tree gracing its grounds - a mighty Bur Oak dedicated in memory of Ariana Kaseman in a special tree planting ceremony May 23. Ariana, who was a first grader at the school, passed away Feb. 23 after a lengthy undiagnosed illness.

Special guests at the observance were Ariana's parents, Kevin and Teresa, her two brothers Alex and Lucas; Ariana's adoring classmates and instructors; and a passel of friends.

The tribute began with a welcome from Ariana's teacher Elaine Jorstad, followed by a history of the tree plantings at Berger from former instructor Hazel Houkom, who implemented the program in honor of former students who passed away; and the actual tree planting ceremony conducted by City Forester Yvette Gehrke, assisted by Ariana's classmates and family, who helped further 'nourish' the tree by adding handfuls of black dirt and containers of refreshing water.

Highlighting the program was the presentation by Jorstad of some 'very special keepsakes'to Kevin and Teresa, including the Berger yearbook, with a dedication to Ariana, a special miniature handcrafted blanket, and in an extremely touching moment, each of Ariana's classmates presented an individual pink rose to Teresa, as a special tribute to their little friend.

The program concluded with a joyous balloon release soaring high into the sky, and ice cream treats for everyone.