LIVE OAK — Artwork from Suwannee High School will be hanging in the nation’s capital.

Suwannee High was chosen by the National Park Service to represent Florida as part of the National Christmas Tree Display in Washington D.C. In all, 56 schools from across the country were chosen with students creating ornaments to adorn 56 trees that surround the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in President’s Park.

“It is such an incredible honor to be able to represent our state in this fashion,” SHS art teacher Pam Williams said in a release. “We have so many creative students at SHS; it is nice to be recognized for our talents.”

The SHS students were shocked when they learned at the start of the school year of the project they would be working on.

“It’s pretty funny,” Christina Taylor said. “We’re so small and to be selected to do something that will be shown in a big important place.”

Addison Elliott said it was a shock at first.

“We’re such a small town I didn’t expect us to be chosen out of all of Florida,” she said. “It was so shocking.

“It was kind of fun too, kind of, ‘Oh dang, we’re special.’”

The work the students produced for the Christmas tree display is special too. The ornaments have to celebrate the state, territory or district that the students represent — in this case, Florida.

The students said, though, it couldn’t be anything representing SHS or copyrighted material, which meant Walt Disney World and Universal Studios and other vacation destinations were off limits.

But that was fine with them.

“That kind of worked out in the end,” James Howard said. “We got to do some more of the rural stuff.”

Howard painted a hunting scene, while Kelsey Little produced a pine tree farm ornament. Among the other scenes included the state gem, the moonstone; a mockingbird, the state bird; manatees, the Everglades and a sunset behind a palm tree.

Paige Smith painted a doppler radar image of a hurricane while Kersten Dye’s beach scene was 3D. She placed a tiny sailboat inside her ornament.

Those ornaments and the tree they hang on is part of the America Celebrates display — a highlight of the National Christmas Tree experience, which begins Dec. 5 with the 97th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. According to the National Park Service, more than 1,500 students participated in this year’s project.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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