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Unique Designs of Forest Hill Art Students to Adorn 'Mississippi Tree' at National Christmas Tree Lighting

November 5, 2018

Forest Hill art students holding their ornaments

Student artists from Forest Hill High School holding the Christmas ornaments they created. The participating student artists are (alphabetically by last name): Travis Adams; Brianna Ard; Torrieze Bell; Brittany Bradley; Makayla Calvin; Breunnah Collins; Michaela Dennis ; Nattyanna Evans; Petagay Evans; Mario Jackson; Michaela Jacobs; Ty’Mya Kelly; De’Lonte Lewis; Candace Mayfield ; Nicolas Milton; JaKaylin Rand; Jocelyn Reese; Jada Robinson; Ashley Thurman; Nancy Trejo; Selah Tucker; Edgardo Urbano-Arreola; and Kyra Williams. All students are not pictured.

Forest Hill High School is one of 56 secondary schools across the country selected to create one-of-a-kind ornaments for the 2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting experience. Only one school per state is selected for this national honor. The Forest Hill art students produced 24 ornaments that they will send to the National Park Service. Their handiwork will adorn the tree representing the state of Mississippi as part of the America Celebrates display.

"The best part of the experience was watching my scholars work together," said teacher Renna Moore. "By pooling their strengths, multiple scholars had a hand in the completion of each individual ornament. The strongest drawers drew out the designs, the best painters worked on detail work, others filled in where needed. It was officially a group effort."

Renna Moore assists a student with an ornament
Forest Hill art teacher Renna Moore helps a student with an ornament destined for the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

"The ornaments were designed to show images of Mississippi writers, artists, musicians, and local landmarks and symbols," said Brittany Bradley, a senior art student at Forest Hill. "This lets people see the creativity of Mississippi. It was an honor to work on this. I really enjoyed painting them."

"Being a part of the process was an amazing experience," said junior Ashley Thurman. "I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to have the work of my Forest Hill art class displayed on a national level."

The National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Education worked with state art and education agencies to identify the schools invited to participate.

Moore and her students have earned regional and national art awards in recent years. She has helped to shape the talent of dozens of art prodigies in her five years at the school. Both Bradley and Thurman were 2018 Mississippi Scholastic Art Gold Key winners. Two of Moore's students have won the Scholastic Art National Gold Medal Award in back-to-back years. In 2018, Brandon Minor (class of 2018) won the award for a mixed media work titled "Speak, Hear, See." The year before, Jeremy Donahue (class of 2017) was awarded the National Gold Medal Award for a work entitled "Man Eater." Donahue was also the 2016-2017 overall winner for the state of Mississippi in the Youth Art Month "Flags Across America" Design Competition. The 2017-2018 state winner was Candace Mayfield, a current Forest Hill art student and one of the participants in the ornament design project. Donahue's and Mayfield's winning designs were made into flags and displayed at the annual conventions of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) for the years they won.

The NAEA presented Moore the 2018 Mississippi Art Educator Award. The award honors outstanding NAEA members from each state or province association whose service and contribution to art education merits recognition and acclaim. Most recently, Moore was recognized by Ask for More Jackson and the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson as a 2018 Outstanding Educator of the Year.

The 96th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on November 28. The National Christmas Tree is surrounded by 56, 6-foot trees representing each U.S. state, district and territory as part of the America Celebrates display. These trees are decorated with ornaments created by students across the country. About 1,500 middle and high school students participated this year.

Learn how you can watch this year's event online and on television at:

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