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National Christmas Tree Display December 1, 2011

Donna Pence and Beacon Heights Elementary 6th grade to create Utah’s ornaments for the 2011 National Christmas Tree Display

SALT LAKE CITY — Local artist Donna Pence and the Beacon Heights Elementary 6th grade classes have been chosen to design and create the ornaments for Utah’s tree for the 2011 National Christmas Tree display in President’s Park in Washington, D.C., the National Park Foundation announced November 10.

A local artist and local youth were selected from each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia to design and create 24 ornaments. Twenty-three of the ornaments will be hung from the state or territory tree as part of the National Christmas Tree display in President’s Park. One of the ornaments will decorate the White House Visitor Center Christmas tree, which showcases one ornament from all 56 states, territories and the District of Columbia, and another will be created for Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert.

“The ornaments Donna created with the students of Beacon Heights Elementary are remarkable,” said Margaret Hunt, Director of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. “They combine literary and visual arts with a strong sense of place and they will represent Utah well on the National Christmas Tree.”

“The decorating of the state and territory trees in President’s Park is a highly anticipated holiday tradition,” said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “We look forward to including the creations of Ms. Pence and Beacon’s 6th grade classes, representing Utah during the 89th annual celebration.”

As one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Since 1923, each succeeding President has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. In addition to the National Christmas Tree display, President’s Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, such as the Santa’s Workshop, nightly holiday performances, a Yule log, nativity scene, and model train display.

“We are very honored to have been selected to create the ornaments for Utah, and our 6th graders are working very hard to have their ornaments travel to the nation’s capitol,” said Donna Pence, Beacon Height’s Art Specialist. “We are excited to be a part of the National Christmas Tree display because this gives us an opportunity to demonstrate beyond our classroom the successes of our integrated art program.”

“Our Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program focuses on the integration of the fine arts with the core curriculum using side by side teaching practices between the Art Specialist and the Classroom Teacher. With this project, classroom teachers Melissa Hoehler, Shanna Lewis, and Gwen Foster have incorporated the Language Arts skill of writing Haiku with my watercolor diorama concept. These 3D interlocking watercolor spheres represent the cityscape of the Northern Wasatch and Salt Lake City on one side, and the colorful landscape of the Southern Utah wilderness on the other. Below, the watercolor dioramas inspire the student-written haikus,” explained Ms. Pence

Four weeks of holiday events in President’s Park will kick off with the 89th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, on Thursday, December 1, 2011, at 5:00 p.m. EST. This year’s talent line up for the lighting ceremony, as well as other event details and a live web stream of the ceremony, will be available at

For more information visit or contact Wendi Hassan at, 801.860.6396.

About the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program
The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program (BTS) is a teaching partnership between a highly qualified arts specialist and elementary classroom teachers in only 56 Utah schools. The arts specialist teaches the skills of the art form, and the classroom teacher selects areas of student learning that need reinforcement. They work together in a side-by-side teaching model and integrate the curriculum to improve student learning in selected core areas.

This model brings the arts back into the classroom, and reinforces classroom core as the art form is integrated with language arts, math, science, and social studies. Arts integration provides students with a deeper level of understanding in grade-level core content, and it also brings joyful learning back into the lives of students and teachers.

About the National Park Service
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System and its 395 National Park sites for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world. For more information,

About the National Park Foundation
You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites — all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow.

About the Utah Division of Arts & Museums
The Utah Division of Arts & Museums is a division of the Utah Department of Community and Culture with a goal to promote innovation in and the growth of Utah’s arts and culture community. The Division provides funding, education, and technical services to individuals and organizations statewide so that all Utahns, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or economic status, can access, understand, and receive the benefits of arts and culture. Additional information on programs and services can be found at or by calling 801.236.7555.

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