Students plant trees in memory of Will McKone


Claire Seinsheimer

Ribbons were tied to the trees in Will’s honor as well.

Back in December, a tree planting took place in Israel in honor of junior Will McKone, who passed away Nov. 24 from an inoperable brain tumor. Inspired by this story, Will’s friend and classmate Will Jackson set out to have trees planted in Houston to bring together both the spiritual and physical homes of the McKone family.

Over 30 students gathered on Saturday, Feb. 23 to commemorate the life of Will McKone by planting five trees in his honor in Bellaire’s Mulberry Park. The trees, planted alongside the entrance to the park and on either side of its walkway, were donated by Trees for Houston, a local non-profit organization. Students planted five trees in total — three 8-foot crepe myrtles and two 12-foot evergreen magnolias.

Seeing everyone working hard, understanding, and enjoying the planting made the whole thing feel celebratory,” Jackson said. “These trees can stand for a century, and that feels incredible.”

Before the students got to work, Community Service Coordinator Marci Bahr made a FaceTime call to McKone’s parents, who spoke with the students at the event. Students also received blue and yellow wristbands with the words “Be Kind, Spread Happiness, Serve Others, Be Inclusive” and “WWWD” (What Would Will Do) written on them to inspire students to live life more like Will did.

“The tree planting ceremony was a fantastic way for the SJS community and the entire city of Houston to remember Will’s legacy and the wonderful impact he had on all of our lives,” junior Asher Moll said.

Trees for Houston Executive Director Barry Ward joined students in the park and led a demonstration on the proper way to plant the trees to ensure that each addition to the park would grow well and last for years to come.

“Planting the trees was definitely much more difficult than I had thought it would be, but since Will’s passing was so hard for our whole grade, I’m so glad we were able to come together, cope and take action,” junior Laurel Williamson said.

Jackson collaborated with Trees for Houston, Bellaire Little League and the city of Bellaire to work out the logistics and make the planting proceed smoothly. Mulberry Park was chosen as the location for the trees because it hosts the newest Bellaire Little League baseball field, and the McKone family knew that Bellaire Little League was very important to Will.

The planting came together very last-minute,” Jackson said. “We got it on the app only two days before the planting and the emails went out to juniors that Friday. Despite the rush, I was thrilled with how it came together. It seemed like everyone understood the significance of what we were doing there.

Once all five trees were planted, each was decorated with blue and yellow ribbons, the two colors represented in the T-shirts student purchased to support McKone and A Kid’s Brain Tumor Cure Foundation. A plaque will be placed in Mulberry Park to permanently mark the impact of Will’s life on future visitors to the park. Although Jackson acknowledges “nothing can justify the loss of an amazing, loving, and happy person like Will,” he also says that “it helps to know that I can always find him in Mulberry Park.”