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Tree art livens up school

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Jean Marie River (Dec 22/06) - Christmas tree decorating is serious business in Jean Marie River.

With help from their families, students at Louie Norwegian school decorated 10 trees as part of their annual Festival of Trees celebration.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Richard Sanguez, left, Jennifer Kraus and Zaida Sanguez stand with their third place tree at the Festival of Trees in Jean Marie River. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The trees were displayed inside the school for the gathering on Dec. 13 that also included displays of the students' work from their Deck the Halls unit, a Christmas carol sung by students and a feast.

Although it was a close race, judges from the Dehcho Divisional Education Council chose Natasha LePage's candy cane-themed tree as the overall winner.

"On behalf of the judges I'd like to say this is the best year for themes," said Barry Church.

LePage, 12, chose candy canes as her theme after the students brainstormed during school for ideas.

"They look cool," she said.

With help from her mother Tammy Neal and Eric Bertrand, LePage started making decorations on Dec. 8. Everything on the tree was homemade.

LePage made candy cane- shaped ornaments from twisted pipecleaner while Neal used dough to design ornaments of bears holding candy canes which she hardened by baking them. LePage's favourite part of the tree was the top ornament, a candy cane made of construction paper with eyes and a big smile.

After working on the decorations a little bit every day, LePage decorated her tree on Wednesday along with the other students.

Preparing for the festival meant late nights for some family members.

Jennifer Kraus was up to 2 or 3 a.m. one morning making the 45 bells that decorated her daughter Zaida's tree.

Cutting the bell shapes out of cardboard was the most time consuming part, said Kraus, but covering them in tinfoil was also tricky. To help out, Zaida, 5, made one special bell decorated with tinsel.

The late nights and work paid off when the family won third place. Second place went to cousins Kyla and Kyle Norwegian and their family for a gingerbreadman-themed tree.

Other tree themes included stars, socks, angels, snow and candles and doves.

The trees are an annual part of the festival which has been running for five years, said Linda Urban, one of the teachers at the school.

All of the work displayed around the school represents a tremendous amount of effort from the students who've been working on Christmas items since the last week in November, she said.

One of the students' more enjoyable tasks was decorating the pickle tree.

Students made green pickle ornaments to decorate the tree. Part of the tradition for the pickle tree comes from Germany where at one point people didn't have enough money for decorations so they hung pickles on the tree, said Urban.

When the evening ended each student took their pickle home to hang it on their own tree.