MERIDEN — The main concourse in Lincoln Middle School is looking especially festive these days, thanks to a Parade of Trees decorated by students and staff.
Nine artificial evergreen trees are on display, each decorated according to a different theme. A Dr. Seuss tree features a small Grinch looking like he’s about to run off with it; a grab-and-go breakfast tree is topped with a silver-painted spork star; a sports tree is wrapped with baseball uniform belt garland; and six more trees glitter with similarly unique decorations.
“If they wanted to, every student helped do something with these trees,” said school Principal Dianne Vumback.
Vumback said the project was born out of a collective idea by teachers and was completed as part of a Higher Order Thinking Schools program.
The state-run program, HOTS, is a designation given to schools that connect the fine arts into everyday learning, among other initiatives.
Students and teachers were split into their academic teams and three unified arts teams to decide on a theme and decorate a tree each. In addition to the Dr. Seuss, breakfast, and sports trees, there was a snowman tree, a ‘just desserts’ tree, an “all about books” tree, a cardinal’s music tree, a recycling tree, and a tree that incorporated both math and English called the “geome-tree and poe-tree,” Vumback said.
The grab-and-go breakfast tree was decorated solely with repurposed breakfast items, such as milk cartons turned into faux gingerbread houses, and a mosaic tree skirt made of cut-up pieces of food containers.
The “all about books” tree featured an ornate topper and chain-link garland both made from the cut-up pages of old books.
Tara O’Neill, a science teacher on a seventh-grade team said her team opted to go for a Dr. Seuss theme because of all the decorating possibilities. And did they ever capitalize on them.
The tree is draped with a zany ribbon garland that looks like it could be lifted straight from a page in the author’s book. Hanging on it are decorations such as small “Horton Hears a Who” and “Cat in the Hat” characters made out of spray-painted pasta shapes and construction paper hot air balloons.
Incidentally, it’s this tree that won Best in Show, as judged by a group of central office staff.
Caroline Fraser, a seventh-grader, was part of the team that decorated the Dr. Seuss tree. She said she helped create the hot air balloon decorations, but really enjoyed the tree topper, which was a replica of the iconic red-and-white striped “Cat in the Hat” hat, illuminated from within by white lights.
Fraser said she herself gave the tree “a 10 out of 10.”
The first runner-up was the cardinal’s music tree, which was decorated throughout with red cardinals, and topped with a large cardinal in a paper nest. Thanks to a music box, the tree also chirped.
“I’m really proud,” Vumback said, surveying the trees. “This was a great event that brought the whole school together.”
Vumback said the trees have inspired conversation and friendly competition among both students and teachers, and while this was the first year holding a Parade of Trees, she said, “I would definitely want to do this again next year.”
Angel Acevedo, a sixth-grade student, created a snowman decoration for the snowman-themed tree. Looking at the tree Monday, he said, “It’s good because some kids don’t have a tree at home to decorate, so maybe these can be trees they decorate for once.”
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