Hooker Students Make Ornaments for Ct White House Christmas tree

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Christopher Hoffman
Worthington Hooker 4th graders are making all ornaments for the Connecticut Christmas tree that will be part of this year’s National Christmas Tree display at the White House in Washington D.C.  
The students are constructing 24 ornaments with New Haven artist and printmaker Roxanna Farber Savage. The design theme is the red breast of the American Robin, the state bird.
An artist and youth from each of the 50 states and six U.S. territories are selected every year to create ornaments for their state’s or territory’s Christmas tree. Savage, who works with the Connecticut Office of the Arts, chose Worthington Hooker to assist in creating this year’s ornaments because of the school’s status as a Higher Order Thinking (HOT) school.
HOT schools integrate the arts into their core curriculum.
 “We are excited to be a part of the National Christmas Tree display because it is giving our students the opportunity to showcase their creativity, which reflects our vales as a school and state,” Worthington Hooker School art teacher Judie Cavanaugh said. 
“My students and I were thrilled to have been chosen to decorate our state’s tree at the White House,” Worthington Hooker 4th grade teacher Julie Villanueva said. “Roxanne and Judie were inspiring, and the process was a lot of fun. We are very honored and proud to represent our school, city and state for the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.”
“I’m thrilled that Worthington Hooker School has been chosen for this great honor,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo said. “These students’ ornaments will represent the entire state of Connecticut at the White House. This honor is a tribute to the district’s outstanding art teachers and art programs as well as the teachers and staff at Worthington Hooker.”
Art teacher Julie Cavanaugh began the design process by having the 4th graders draw pictures of the Robin red breast. The drawings were photocopied and re-drawn with wax crayon.
Artist and printmaker Roxanne Faber Savage then assisted the students in hand-printing the bird images onto the outside surface of the plastic ornaments using a transfer technique called “paper lithography.” Students created and filled their ornaments with “magic eggs” and nest materials.
The Connecticut tree will include 23 ornaments with the last one on display at the White House visitor center.
The National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park.  Every succeeding President has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. 
President Obama will preside over the 89th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1 at which time ornaments made by Worthington Hooker students will go on display.
The annual lighting ceremony is hosted by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.