One by one, the ash trees that flanked the parking lot by the main entrance of Vernon Hills High School fell in a heap of green and red leaves, cut down and swiftly removed by workers on Saturday.
All but two of the 45 trees were infested with emerald ash borer, school officials said. New trees, including maple and elm, will be planted beginning Columbus Day, Oct. 14.
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Workers from Chico's Treeland Inc. arrived at about 9 a.m. and expected to stay there the whole day. In the morning, they worked in solitude as people walked in and out of the main building for various activities.
Students were told via an announcement Wednesday that the trees would be cut down, freshman Isabelle Kling said.
"They said our trees were infected with the bug," she said. "It's not that big of a deal, but it's kind of sad. We don't want something bad to happen to the other trees, so they have to do it."
Parent Joy Levering said it's a loss, but an understandable one.
"I had noticed how beautiful the trees were, then the kids told me about the announcement. They said counselors would be available," she said. "They're pretty trees, but I understand they have to do it."