POLACCA, Ariz. - Some happy Hopi High School budding artists will have their Christmas ornaments displayed at the nation's capitol this year.
The State of Arizona is providing the 2009 capitol Christmas tree, aptly nicknamed "The People's Tree," which will go on tour starting Nov. 9 before ending up in the nation's capital.
The 65-foot tree, harvested from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will be decorated with approximately 5,000 handcrafted ornaments created by Arizona's schoolchildren.
The project is being coordinated by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Apache Natural Resources Conservation District, businesses and community partners.
Approximately 30 Hopi High art students participated in the program after art teacher Mary Duwynie learned about the opportunity.
"It's good exposure for the kids and it lets D.C. know about Hopi," she said. "The students enjoyed the project and they are excited about it."
Most of the ornaments have rain cloud designs. Each piece was individually painted with many different colors.
After the holiday season is completed and the tree is taken down the ornaments will be donated to charity.
"It's a good experience for the kids. A lot of them wanted to get their ornaments back, but [unfortunately] they won't," she said.
Duwyenie said the best pieces were made by Harold Lomayaktewa, cousin Drew Lomayaktewa and Rodriguez Poleahla. She noted that more males than females became involved with this project.
The students involved in this project included Newtonya "Fay" Carl, Brett Honanie Cullen Jim-LaRance, Waldon Lomayaktewa Jr., Erika Phillips, LeeAnn Sherman, Sampson Sinquah, Clifton Ami, Valentino Antone, Ivern Beatty, Austin James, Skyler LaBahe, Andrea Lomayaktewa, Shacely Miguel, Elena Pawytewa, Stetson Polivema, Quinten Ramirez, Millie Koinva, Aaron Bernhardt, Shane Davis, Dallas Fred, Mariah Humestewa, Amber Namoki, Rodriuguez Poleahla, Lynn Wittington, Harold Lomayaktewa Jr. and Drew Lomayaktewa.
The painting assistants were Adrian Mahkewa, Geraldine Numkena, Darrell Tewawina, Alexander Yowytewa, Daniel Lomayestewa and Jalissa Albert.
Jerri Lomayaktewa assisted Mary Duwyenie with leading the project.
The students who created the ornaments are eligible for a drawing for a free trip to Washington D.C. to accompany Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in lighting the tree. Thought the holiday season, the tree will be lit at dusk enabling people from across the world to enjoy Arizona's historical, cultural and natural beauty.