Fifth-graders at H.M. Pearson Elementary School in Catlett have made decorations for this year's U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, which for the first time comes from Virginia.
Students and teachers across the state were asked to provide 4,500 ornaments reflecting the theme of Virginia's tree -- "Birthplace of Presidents" -- or Virginia's agriculture, wildlife, historical or natural resources. The ornaments also had to be lightweight, durable, waterproof, reflective, colorful and designed for three-dimensional viewing.
Pearson art teacher Robin Guay coordinated the efforts of eight art assistants, who help in the art room before and after school, to design and make the 11-inch ornaments using a technique called repousse, a design in relief that is pressed into a sheet of metal from the reverse side.
The metal sheets were then wrapped around a plastic foam base, and the edges were finished with ribbon. The bright red ornaments feature a frog, rabbit, raccoon and other animals. A small plaque on the bottom of each identifies it as an ornament made by a Pearson student.
"Pearson wanted to be represented on the Capitol tree," Guay said. "Each one [student] made an ornament that reflects a different animal indigenous to the state."
The custom of placing the nation's holiday tree on the front lawn of the Capitol began in 1964, and, since 1970, the "people's tree" has come from a national forest. This year's tree was cut in the George Washington National Forest in Highland County. It will be on display from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday in Ida Lee Park in Leesburg.
After Christmas, the ornaments will be given to Washington schoolchildren as gifts from Virginia.