Dec 26th, 2019

Holiday Decorations by Henrico Students

Each year, Henrico County Public Schools elementary students present a gift to the community. They offer their creativity through holiday decorations adorning trees at Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

These special trees line the hallway inside the Kelly Education Center. Look closely between the branches and you’ll see holiday decorations like no other. That’s because each ornament is hand-crafted, expressing the individuality of the student who made it.

Hallway at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with holiday decorations on trees

Visit the Kelly Education Center during Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights to see trees decorated by Henrico County elementary students.

Each year, different elementary schools take turns embellishing the trees. The only requirement is that the holiday decorations relate to the show’s theme. This year (2019) the theme is “Magic in the Air” celebrating things that fly. Each tree has corresponding signage on the wall to tell the story behind the holiday decorations and to illustrate how adeptly teachers use this opportunity for multi-disciplinary exploration: art, poetry, science, cinema, culture and more are all woven together with creativity.

The Schools

The eight Henrico County elementary schools participating this year are listed below with some excerpts from their artist statements. (Teachers and principals are listed as provided.)

Montrose Elementary School

Montrose Elementary School bird decoration

A feathered friend

Fifth-grade students in Ms. Williamson’s class at Montrose Elementary School created a fun and feathered tree. Inspired by the work of folk artists, they used foil and brightly colored paper to fashion ornaments depicting birds. A line of poetry by Langston Hughes serves as a motivational reminder: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Dumbarton Elementary School

Dumbarton Elementary Hot Air Balloons decoration

Up, Up and Away

According to students in Ms. Maria Martin and Miss Amanda Taillie’s fifth-grade classes at Dumbarton Elementary School : “Nothing is more magical than a sky full of colorful hot air balloons!” These students used their skills to make ceramic hot air balloons soar and float against a background of puffy, white clouds. (Principal: Carla Scott; Art teacher: Jillian Wolmuth)

Colonial Trail Elementary School

Colonial Trail Metal Butterfly decoration

Beautiful butterflies

Butterflies, dragonflies and birds come to life on this tree created by Mrs. Goldman’s fifth-grade class under artistic direction of Sherri Smith at Colonial Trail Elementary School. These holiday decorations were tooled from metal and they shine as they catch the light.  (Principal Kevin Schatz)

Fair Oaks Elementary School

Fair Oaks Elementary Ruby Red Slippers

We’re Off to See the Wizard

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Students from Fair Oaks Elementary School who decorated this “Over the Rainbow” tree were inspired by the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” and the tale of Dorothy and her dog Toto as they were transported magically through the air to the Land of Oz. The decorations include nods to the iconic characters and images seen in the movie, including poppies, tornados and lollypops. Look under the tree for the famous ruby red slippers!
(Principal: Candace Wilkerson, Associate Principal: Jackie Stevens; Art Teacher: Corinne Schofield)

An Achievable Dream Certified Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School

Highland Springs school gnome holiday decoration

Gnome Sweet Gnome

When fourth-graders at An Achievable Dream Certified Academy at Highland Springs Elementary School heard the “Magic in the Air” theme, they brainstormed about favorite magical creatures from fairy tales to folklore. The result? Their creativity brought to life gnomes made of clay and paint, mermaid tails constructed of tooled metal, and glitter unicorns. (Principal: Shawnya Tolliver, Art Teacher: Ashley Melnichak)

Skipwith Elementary School

Skipwith Elementary School Alien holiday decoration

Take me to your leader

This tree titledUnicorns and Cardinals in Space” incorporates the Skipwith Elementary School school mascot, a cardinal named Skippy, and magical creatures that could live in outer space imagination. The students studied history, learning about the first manned mission to land on the moon 50 years ago, as well as planets and rocket ships. Their tree invites you to look among the branches to find wonderful creatures, including aliens.

Maybeury Elementary School

Maybeury Elementary holiday decoration

Folk art as inspiration

Amate bark paintings inspired these bright and colorful decorations. The students at Maybeury Elementary School learned about this unique form of folk art created by the Otomi and Nahua people of central Mexico, including how generations have made the bark paper by hand. The students then created their own artwork painting scenes of whimsical birds, flowers and plants.

Jackson Davis Elementary School

Jackson Davis bee holiday decoration

“Bee” the change

Inspired by their school’s 2019-2020 theme “Be the Change,” the students at Jackson Davis Elementary School created beautifully detailed ornaments with images of bees. These serve as a reminder to students to “bee” their best selves to make an impact on the world around them.

Your Chance to View the Holiday Decorations

If you haven’t seen the holiday decorations yet, there’s still time. They’ll be on display through January 6, 2020. You can visit during the day (the Garden is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and during Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights (5 – 10 p.m.) If you visit for the New Year’s Eve Family Frolic on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (2 – 5 p.m.) the holiday decorations take center stage—many of the day’s activities are in the Kelly Education Center with the trees and holiday ornaments lined up along the building’s main hall.

The Garden is grateful to the students and educators from Henrico County Public Schools for making this display possible. These holiday decorations are always one of my favorite parts of Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.



About Beth Monroe

Beth Monroe is public relations and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She feels honored to be part of a team connecting people and plants to improve our community.

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