FRANKFORT, Ky. — Students from three schools in Marshall County were chosen to design and create ornaments that will hang on Kentucky's tree in the 2012 National Christmas Tree display in President's Park in Washington, D.C.

Students from South Marshall Middle School, Benton Middle School and Marshall County High School join artists and youths from each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia who were selected to design and create 24 ornaments for their respective state or territory tree.

"Since Kentucky is filled with beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers, the students used these natural features as their inspirations," said Valera Brooks, a retired Marshall County art teacher and local artist who headed up the project. "They also featured national parks, Kentucky history, and traditions like the Kentucky Derby in their creations."

The ornaments decorate Kentucky's tree, which, along with the other state trees, surrounds the National Christmas Tree.

Brooks said students who created ornaments felt a sense of pride when the process was finished.

"They really were creative, and the ornaments really turned out well," she said. "I think Kentucky will be proud of what we sent to represent our state."

The students worked on the project with the Marshall County Arts Commission in conjunction with the Kentucky Arts Council. Local artists who worked with the students in the development of the ornaments were Brooks, Denita Allen, Kristen Chumbler and Renita Underhill.

"I congratulate the student artists who worked so diligently to create ornaments that showcase many of our state's most prominent features and important events," said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. "Participating in the National Christmas Tree display is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students. I hope the experience fosters a sense of accomplishment and an interest in continuing to participate in the arts."

As one of America'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 on the Ellipse in President's Park. Since 1923, each succeeding President has carried on the tradition of what now has become a monthlong event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. In addition to the National Christmas Tree display, President's Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, such as the Santa's Workshop, nightly holiday performances, a yule log, Nativity scene and model train display.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony will be Dec. 6. For ticket information, talent announcements and other event details, visit www.thenationaltree.org.

The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. For more information, visit www.nps.gov.

Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks. The Foundation works hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect all Americans to the parks, and to make sure they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Kentucky schools and students participating in the National Christmas Tree display ornament creation are as follows:

South Marshall Middle School

  • Morgan Foster
  • Kaylie Riley
  • Sierra Jones
  • Alec DeClue

Benton Middle School

  • Regan Harris
  • Callie Bridges
  • Marlee Henson
  • Trevor Scoggins
  • Madeilyn Henson
  • Nicole Tosh
  • Summer Lucas
  • Klein Johnson
  • Hayden Eubanks

Marshall County High School

  • Allie Carter
  • Katie Bates
  • Jeremy Smith
  • Lexie Myers
  • Jessica Morrison
  • Cassie Babczak
  • Rebekah Marstellar
  • Kheilenn Weitlauff

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