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McCain and two of her 4th grade students, Jacob Stroud (left) and Braylon Szostek (right).

Lock Haven, Pa. -- MacKenzie McCain’s fourth grade class from Robb Elementary in Lock Haven recently planted a sweet pepper bush in front of the school, donated to them through the PPL Community Roots program.

After experiencing the loss of a classmate this year, the students decided to plant this bush in front of their school in his memory.

"I think it's safe to say that schools, teachers, and children everywhere were thrown a curveball no matter where you turned during this pandemic," said McCain.
 
"Unfortunately, on top of learning to learn and work with a mask, staying 6 feet apart from their friends and teachers, as well as all of the other accommodations that were mandatory this year, my students and I have had to navigate the tragic loss of a child in our class. Despite the obvious heartache," she continued, "these children were resilient, brave, kind, encouraging, and we became a genuine family."
 
The students said they selected the sweet pepper plant because it attracts butterflies. When they see beautiful butterflies visit this bush for years to come, it will remind them of the memories of their friend.
 
To date, the PPL Community Roots program has distributed over 100,000 free trees throughout a 29-county service area.
 
"We leaned on each other when we were sad. We laughed together when we needed to smile," said McCain. "We worked hard and achieved great things, even through the pandemic. This year was anything but easy, but these students were undoubtedly strong."
 
The fourth grade class remembered their friend in a number of ways, including writing letters and attaching red balloons, releasing them on his birthday.
 
"As spring rolled around, PPL Electric Utilities donated trees to our school and, collectively, we knew exactly what we wanted to do with one of the sweet pepper bushes," said McCain. "As a class, we planted this bush in the front of Robb Elementary school for all to see and admire. When the bush flourishes, it will attract butterflies."

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