It might still be a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but West Valley students have already created ornaments to decorate the 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.
“It was fun,” said Dorothy Patchin, art teacher at Centennial Middle School. Almost 160 students at Centennial, West Valley City School, Pasadena Park Elementary School and Spokane Valley High School created ornaments. Patchin said they were each between 11 to 12 inches tall, created using old bed sheets and wire hangers. The hangers were shaped into a circle and pieces of the sheets were sewn around the circle to create a canvas for students to paint.
This year’s Capitol tree will be selected from Colville National Forest. All of the ornaments decorating it – 5,000 in all – will be from Washington state.
Each ornament must be 9 to 12 inches high and less than 8 ounces. Ornaments also must be weatherproof, have holes for hooks, be made of recycled materials and reflect the theme of the tree, “Sharing Washington’s Good Nature.”
Patchin said students painted scenes in nature from throughout the state. Some of them featured orcas, the state flower, the state bird, the state insect and the state fossil – the wooly mammoth.
“A little bit of everything,” she said.
There were paintings of apples and a couple of wheat. Patchin said the most artistic was one from a sixth grade boy who painted the state flower, the rhododendron. The most creative she saw was a wolf.
Students researched the state’s wildlife and plants that connected with the students’ social studies standards.
A phone call Thursday to the ornament coordinator in the Republic Ranger District was answered with a message that the office was closed because of the federal government shutdown. The official website of this year’s tree, however, said it will be harvested Nov. 1 before it is wrapped and tours the country. It will arrive in Washington, D.C., in time for Thanksgiving.
“The People’s Tree” is a tradition that started in 1964, when then-Speaker John W. McCormack planted a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn.
In 1970, the U.S. Forest Service was asked to provide a tree and a different national forest has been selected each year.
This is the second time a tree from Washington state will stand at the Capitol. In 2006, a Pacific silver fir was chosen from Olympic National Forest.
Students in the West Valley School District will be watching for images of the tree on the news this season.
“Some of them were worried because they’re not going to get their art back,” Patchin said. “The hope of seeing their art on the news made them feel better.”