It’s already the most wonderful time of the year for Oak Harbor elementary school students.
The smiles and laughter of children decorating Christmas trees lit up downtown Oak Harbor as they began what organizers hope will become tradition.
Students in every elementary school in Oak Harbor made ornaments to decorate trees at Harborside Village on Pioneer Way, and more than 50 students and their parents showed up to place their creations on the trees.
Despite frightful weather outside, inside the mall, every nook and cranny was glowing with smiling children, colorful ornaments and glittering fake snow.
“I hope we get to do it every year,” said Kristi Jensen, who co-owns Harborside Village with Frank Scelzi. Jensen asked if students could decorate the trees and the schools “jumped on it,” she said.
She provided the supplies.
The students made ornaments that represented their schools, such as herons for Hillcrest Elementary, the compass rose for Broad View Elementary and orcas for Crescent Harbor Elementary.
Courtney VanGiesen, 9, excitedly pointed out her ornament on the Broad View Elementary School tree.
“It was fun,” Courtney said of decorating the trees. Her sister, Carly, 7, nodded in agreement.
They said they enjoy decorating their own tree at home every year and had so much fun doing it for school that they’d like to do it again next year.
“It’s exciting to do for the community,” Courtney said.
When people see the decorated trees, Carly said she hopes “that they’ll be happy.”
“I hope that they’re happy with the schools’ works,” Courtney added.
Levy funds art
Nicolette Harrington, art teacher for Broad View Elementary, said this event makes art visible to the community, which will vote on the school levy in February. Levy money funds the art program in the schools.
It’s important “for them to recognize how many thousands of children are making handmade gifts because of this program,” Harrington said, adding that gifts like this will hopefully become keepsakes.
“This would be the last time we would be able to do this if the levy doesn’t pass,” Harrington continued.
Oak Harbor schools have had an art program for the past 12 years, when the community passed the first levy. Most other elementary schools don’t have art programs.
“It’s like the icing on the cake. Maybe it’s the whole cake,” Harrington said of Oak Harbor’s art program and other programs funded by the levy including physical education and technology programs.
The most important aspect of the evening of decorating was the “delight” Harrington saw in every child’s eyes.
“You can tell by their faces they had a wonderful time,” Harrington said. “And I think the merchants were pleased too.”