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.
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 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
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
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
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
“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
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
This tree titled “Unicorns 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
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
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.