November 26, 2021

Students’ pride on display

Artists to help decorate state’s Christmas tree

Photo provided by Elizabeth Sprout

Dryden art student Hannah Diamond carves an apple to represent the Big Apple, in her New York State-themed ornament that will be part of the national Christmas display this year in Washington D.C.

DRYDEN — For weeks, 12 advanced placement art students at Dryden High School were doing some early Christmas decorating.

But this wasn’t your ordinary Christmas decorating, of hanging stockings with care or draping tinsel and ornaments from a Christmas tree.

The students were painting, sculpting and using collage to craft New York-themed Christmas tree ornaments that will adorn a Christmas tree outside the White House.

The National Park Service heads the program, which fields 24 ornaments from a school district in each state or territory — ornaments that are then hung on that state or territory’s tree as part of the America Celebrates Display on the Ellipse in President’s Park in Washington, D.C.

Dryden District Superintendent Josh Bacigalupi said Dryden was recommended to the state Commissioner of Education to take part in the program. Bacigalupi and other superintendents recommend their districts and Bacigalupi cited the district’s award-winning art program for earning it a place on the National Christmas Tree display.

Art teacher Elizabeth Sprout said she found out in August the district was selected, and then came weeks of students creating the 24 ornaments — which began as undecorated globes that were shipped to the district with specific instructions.

• Ornaments had to be emblematic of the state — state flower, animal, geographic feature, flag or similar icons.
• Ornaments couldn’t feature school names or logos.
• Ornaments couldn’t contain corporate logos, symbols, statements or slogans.
• Ornaments couldn’t contain political statements.

Because the theme was New York state, some students painted images symbolic of the state, like the Statue of Liberty, or the Empire State Building. Others featured the Adirondack mountains and wineries and waterfalls.

One student used sculpture to create an apple and buildings, to look like the Big Apple with New York City inside it.

The work also interrupted the curriculum, however.

These were junior or senior students and they can’t use these projects to count toward a final portfolio as the work now belongs to the National Park System, Sprout said.

The district had to ship the boxes back — packed as carefully as they had come, minus two ornaments that broke along the way.

“It was an interruption, but we did it,” she said.