First class tree is planted
According to the Taunton News (June 14 1900), the senior class chose an already standing elm tree and conducted their commencement exercises around it. With time, the tradition evolved into each senior class choosing a day during the second week of April to plant a new tree on campus as a class gift.
While Wheaton’s Upper Campus was being developed between 1900 and 1941, classes often planted ivy near the new buildings. Class treasure boxes are frequently buried near the tree or ivy, to be found and opened at the 25th reunion.
Over the years, Wheaton has amassed an extensive collection of local and foreign tree species, which are highlighted in the annual Tree Walk originated by the late Professor of Philosophy Holcombe Austin, and continued by Professor of Biology Scott Shumway. Today, senior classes have the liberty of choosing class gifts other than trees. However, most have chosen to continue the tree planting tradition.