For the past 100 years, the National Park Service has run a program called, “America Celebrates: Ornaments from Across the USA.” Students from across the country design ornaments to adorn their state or territory tree outside the White House. The designs answer the question: What makes your state special? Between twelve and twenty-four ornaments from each state are selected to be displayed on the Ellipse in President’s Park in Washington, D.C. (one of America’s national parks!).
This year, Sussex County Teacher of the Year Shawna Longo and her students at Durban Avenue School in Hopatcong, NJ were selected by the New Jersey Department of Education to create designs to represent our great state of New Jersey! Longo states, “I am proud and excited to represent New Jersey and give my students the opportunity to create original ornament designs that will be viewed by countless people from all over our country during the holiday season.”
Students first received an arts integration lesson on the history of New Jersey, what makes it special, and how that can be shown through a piece of art, or an ornament in this case. They brainstormed ideas about what makes New Jersey unique and then each selected an idea about what they love the most. This idea was then sketched and finalized using color pencils and markers to create their individual design. Twenty designs were selected and sent off to the National Park Service to be transformed from paper into an ornament.
The National Tree Lighting ceremony took place on December 2 in President’s Park in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the program and the 58 participating schools.
Mrs. Longo and her principal, Mrs. Katherine McFadden, will each be taking a trip down to see the New Jersey tree and take photos to bring back for the students.