Students help decorate governor’s tree

Second-graders from Washougal’s Columbia River Gorge Elementary make origami ‘sea creature’ ornaments

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Second grade art students at Columbia River Gorge Elementary (CRGE) are already getting into the holiday spirit by creating ornaments for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s holiday tree.

CRGE art teacher Joanna Sickels saw the opportunity, and applied to have CRGE students participate in the project.

“It is important for students to share their work and have it seen by a wide audience,” she said. “Projects that bring works out into the public like this help kids to invest in their art. This is also such a great opportunity to highlight our new art elementary program and let the state know that Washougal School District offers art instruction to all K-5 students.”

Students throughout Washington state have been helping decorate the holiday tree at the governor’s mansion since 2013. The mansion receives a high number of visitors during the holiday season and guests greatly enjoy seeing the work of elmentary, middle and high school students.

“I’m delighted that Columbia River Gorge Elementary applied to participate and was selected,” said Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Learning and Teaching Program Supervisor Anne Banks. “This year the theme is ‘Sea Creatures,’ and we are all looking forward to seeing the ornaments they are creating.”

Once Sickels learned the school was selected and the ornament theme, she emailed the staff to find out who was teaching about the ocean.

“That is a second-grade subject, so second-graders were selected to create fish, integrating the two subjects,” she said. “I tell students that science and art are best friends, and math and art are best friends. Integrating arts in classroom subjects can show students how art is connected in so many ways to what they are learning.”

For their project, Sickels chose traditional Japanese paper-folding to create an origami fish. After folding the fish, students used decorative papers to collage and create attractive designs.

“Origami is a beautiful medium,” Sickels said. “The project allows them to use their personal creativity to make it their own unique fish ornament.”

According to Banks, the response from classrooms across the state who wanted to participate this year was huge. Only 22 classrooms could be a part of the project. They were selected based on their art descriptions, ESD region, and whether they were an elementary, middle or high school. The state wanted to have all regions and grades represented on the governor’s holiday tree.

Information provided by Rene’ Carroll, for the Washougal School District