KSDE Weekly

Standards and Instruction

Student artwork showcased on ornaments during National Christmas Tree Lighting, display

Article updated Dec. 5, 2023: Ornaments featuring artwork by students throughout the United States, including Kansas, will once again adorn trees at the National Christmas Tree site in Washington, D.C. 

A walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree at President’s Park, one of America’s 423 national parks, features 58 smaller trees, which represent states, territories and schools managed by the Bureau of Indian Education and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The 58 trees are decorated with ornaments designed by students from each state, territory and school system.  

The America Celebrates ornament program is an annual collaboration between the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Park Foundation (NPF). Each federal partner works within their organization to facilitate the identification of elementary, middle and high schools to participate in the America Celebrates program. The project is funded by NPF. 

The 2023 America Celebrates ornament display will feature a selection of designs from schools and students who participated in 2020, 2021 and 2022, according to NPF. For Kansas, artwork from students at Leawood Middle School, Blue Valley Unified School District 229 in Overland Park, will be featured.

More than 2,600 students participated in the 2022 America Celebrates ornament program, including students from Leawood Middle School. Art students from Leawood conducted research and developed designs to reflect the fountains, barbecue and rolling hills of rural Kansas. 

Fourth-grade students from Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School in Topeka, along with students from Blue Valley, designed and created ornaments for the 2021 celebration. 

Artists from Rolling Ridge Elementary School, Olathe USD 233, were selected to create ornaments for the 2020 America Celebrates ornament program. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPS and NPF didn’t host a live audience for the 2020 National Tree Lighting Ceremony. However, the National Christmas Tree and state, district and territory trees and their ornaments were available for public viewing. 

The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony took place Nov. 30 at President’s Park.  Everyone is invited to view the National Christmas Tree and the 2023 America Celebrates ornament display through Jan. 1, 2024. 

The National Christmas Tree Lighting has strong ties to education. In November 1923, then-First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia Public Schools to erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse, which is the South Lawn of the White House. The tree was a 48-foot balsam fir from Vermont. 

That Christmas Eve, then-President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse. 

“Standing at the foot of the tree, the President touched a button that lit the tree electrically,” according to a Dec. 25, 1923, Washington Post article. 

The tree was decorated with 2,500 red, white and green electric bulbs.  

During World War II, wartime restrictions meant no new ornaments were purchased for the National Christmas Tree in 1942. Washington, D.C., students donated ornaments that supplemented the use of reused ornaments from previous years. 

While this year’s 40-foot Norway spruce was blown over by a gust of wind on Tuesday, Nov. 28, NPS crews replaced a snapped cable, and the tree was back in place five hours later. About 20 ornaments fell from the tree but didn’t break, NPS staff members reported. Crews installed concrete blocks and additional cables to further secure the tree. The lighting event did go on as planned. 

For more information, visit Home - National Christmas Tree Lighting (thenationaltree.org)

Posted: Nov 30, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush
Tags: Arts

Theme picker

Copyright 2024 by Kansas State Department of Education | 900 SW Jackson St. | Topeka, KS 66612 Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use  |  System Maintenance Notices  |  Open Records (PDF)

The Kansas State Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. (more information...)

To accommodate people with disabilities, on request, auxiliary aides and services will be provided and reasonable modifications to policies and programs will be made. To request accommodations or for more information please contact the Office of General Counsel at gc@ksde.org or by 785-296-3201.