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D7 Students Create Ornaments for National Christmas Tree Display

Spartanburg School District 7 students from McCracken Middle School are representing South Carolina with their one-of-a-kind ornaments designed for the 2020 National Christmas Tree display in Washington, D.C.’s President’s Park. One school from each state is selected annually for the honor of creating ornaments for their state’s tree. These 56 smaller trees surround the National Christmas Tree and celebrate each state, district or territory through designs incorporating everything from state flowers to notable landmarks.

The trees are a centerpiece of the 2020 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Performances, which are available on-demand starting Thursday, December 3 at 5 pm at

The America Celebrates ornament program is a collaboration of the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Department of Education and the National Park Foundation (NPF). See the full list of schools representing each state here.

“I was completely shocked to find out that we were the only school to represent the state of South Carolina. This is an awesome opportunity. Not many can say that they have had their artwork represent the entire state! I am super proud of our kids,” said McCracken art teacher Ed Purdy, who co-led the project with fellow art teacher Amanda Kingsmore. “We encouraged our students to think back to their 3rd grade South Carolina history and our 8th graders are currently studying South Carolina history,” Kingsmore explained. “They researched ways to highlight our wonderful state and did an incredible job representing South Carolina and McCracken!”

McCracken student Halle Abbott traveled to Washington for the tree's installation. While there, she toured the White House and met First Lady Melania Trump. Halle is pictured with the South Carolina tree below, with a photo of her ornament on the tree to the right. 

Halle Abbott with tree   Halle's ornament

The 98th National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a festive compilation of Christmas lights and music, national parks, and holiday cheer that will bring joy into homes across the country. Performers will include pop artist and American Idol finalist Colton Dixon; country singer/songwriter Jerrod Niemann; country artist Jillian Cardarelli; singer/songwriter Jillian Edwards; country music singer/songwriter and actress Kellie Pickler; country artist and American Idol winner Laine Hardy; country band Leaving Austin; award-winning gospel artist Lynda Randle and her brother, Michael Tait, lead vocalist of the Newsboys; singer/songwriter Matthew West; Passion featuring Melodie Malone; the National Park Service Arrowhead Jazz Band; the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus; the U.S. Navy’s official chorus, The Sea Chanters; and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

Lighting the National Christmas Tree is one of America’s oldest holiday traditions. The first lighting took place in 1923. On Christmas Eve that year, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the Oval Office to the Ellipse and pushed a button that lit the first National Christmas Tree. It was a 48-foot balsam fir donated by Middlebury College in Vermont.

Since 1973, the National Christmas Tree has been a living tree which can be viewed year-round in President’s Park – one of America’s 422 national parks. A 30-foot Colorado blue spruce currently serves as the National Christmas Tree.

Student ornaments (from top left): 

  • Amelia Phillips
  • Blythe Lemonds
  • Carlee Richards
  • Ellie Davis
  • Ellie Hallenbeck
  • Halle Abbott
  • Maggie Akridge
  • Marianna Saad
  • Millie Vandys
  • Pierce Lake
  • Sydney McGuire
  • Teagan McEnroe


Amelia Phillips Blythe Lemonds Carlee Richards Ellie Davis Ellie Hallenbeck Halle Abbott Maggie Ackridge Marianna Saad Millie Vandys Pierce Lake Sydney McGuire Teagan McEnroe