Christmas Tree

Washougal, WA — Second grade art students of Columbia River Gorge Elementary are already getting into the holiday spirit by created ornaments for Washington Governor, Jay Inslee’s Christmas Tree.

CRGE art teacher, Joanna Sickels, saw the opportunity and applied to have CRGE participate in the project. “It is important for students to share their work and have it seen by a wide audience,” she said.  “Projects that bring works out into the public like this help kids to invest in their art. This is also such a great opportunity to highlight our new art elementary program and let the state know that Washougal School District offers art instruction to all K-5 students.”

Since 2013, the Governor’s Mansion has requested ornaments made by students from around the state to decorate the mansion’s Christmas Tree.  The mansion receives a high number of visitors during the holiday season and guests greatly enjoy seeing the work of K-12 students from Washington State that decorates the tree.

“I’m delighted that Columbia River Gorge Elementary applied to participate and was selected,” said Anne Banks, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Learning and Teaching Program Supervisor.  “This year the theme is “Sea Creatures” and we are all looking forward to seeing the ornaments they are creating!”

Once Sickels learned the school was selected and the ornament theme, she emailed the staff to find out who was teaching about the ocean.  “That is a second-grade subject so second graders were selected to create fish, integrating the two subjects,” she said.  “I tell students that science and art are best friends, and math and art are best friend.  Integrating arts in classroom subjects can show students how art is connected in so many ways to what they are learning.”

For their project, Sickels chose traditional Japanese paper-folding to create an origami fish.  After folding the fish, students used decorative papers to collage and create attractive designs. “Origami is a beautiful medium,” she said. “The project allows them to use their personal creativity to make it their own unique fish ornament.”

According to Banks, the response this year was huge from classrooms across the state who wanted to participate, however, just twenty-two classrooms could be a part of the project. They were selected based on their art descriptions, ESD region, and whether they were an elementary, middle, or high school so that all regions and grade bands were represented in the statewide opportunity.

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