CEDAR CITY — When the lights are turned on the National Christmas Tree tonight (Thursday, Dec. 9) on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., a group of high students from Cedar City will be paying special attention. They made 25 of the ornaments that decorate the tree.
Carrie Trenholm of Southern Utah University was selected by the Utah Arts Council to create the ornaments for this year's tree. The National Park Service, which sponsors the National Christmas Tree and the lighting event, asked for one artist and one youth group from each state to create ornaments for the tree. Trenholm worked with Glen Lyman's students at Canyon View High School in Cedar City to produce fused glass ornaments.
"Each student started with a five-inch round of glass and drew the picture on it with powders," explained Trenholm in a telephone chat, and then the medallion was fired at high temperatures to fuse the images. "We thought it would be fun, since this is a National Park project, to feature the wildflowers of the Zion and Kolob Canyon regions in our area."
It was a very fun project, she said. "The students were so enthusiastic. They wanted to jump right in and try something new." Many even gave up some vacation time to work on the glass pieces.
The ornaments are extraordinary, said Margaret Hunt, director of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. "They will represent well the skill and creativity of Utah artists as well as pay tribute to the natural beauty to be found in Utah."
The National Park Foundation was also pleased with the results. "We're delighted," said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. "This event is a wonderful example of how our national parks connect us as a nation."
It also highlights the importance of art in students' lives, said Trenholm, who holds the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair Assistant Professor of Elementary Arts Education at SUU, where her goal is to promote arts education in the public schools in southern Utah.
"Art provides an opportunity to be creative, to make choices," she said. "It's a completely different outlet from so much school work, which has right or wrong answers. It's so important for kids to explore areas where they have some freedom. Creativity brings joy to their lives, gives them something they want to share. And to do something on this scale, that is so different and will be seen by so many, gives them a lot of pride."
In addition to the ornaments that will hang on the National Tree, one ornament from each state will also decorate the Christmas tree in the White House Visitor Center.
As one of the country's oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators. Since then every president has continued the tradition.