Thursday, October 17, 2013

[187] MTSU students will help Tennessee artists with national Christmas tree ornaments

MURFREESBORO — MTSU students will have a hand in creating Tennessee's ornaments for the national Christmas tree when they assist 24 young artists from across the state in a special workshop on Monday, Oct. 21, inside the Tom Jackson Building on campus.

MTSU professor Lori Kissinger's organizational communications classes will coordinate efforts for the artists of VSA Tennessee, the state organization on arts and disability, at the event beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The workshop is free and open to the public, too. A searchable campus map with parking notes is available at

Kissinger's students regularly help with VSA events as part of her experiential learning classes, coordinating events like the February 2013 Tennessee VSA Young Soloist Competition and the fall 2013 "Golden Ratio Project," an arts performance that traveled to Athens, Greece, for an international arts education exchange.

VSA Tennessee is responsible for creating the Tennessee ornaments for the 2013 national tree in Washington, D.C., Kissinger said. The organization selected 24 young people with different disabilities to make the ornaments.

"In addition, while the young people are making ornaments, they will also make masks that will be displayed at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville as a kick-off to the 40th anniversary of the national VSA program,” she added. “Our MTSU students are arranging the logistics for this program as well as serving as volunteers in the process."

The Oct. 21 event also will feature remarks from Dean Mark Byrnes of MTSU'S College of Liberal Arts; state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville; state Rep. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro; and Anne Pope, director of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

“I am very excited about the workshop," said young artist/participant Jalyn Weston, 10, of Sweetwater, Tenn. "I’m just glad to be a part of this national celebration that has been around for 90 years.”

Every year, one-of-a-kind ornaments are made by everyday Americans to hang on the 56 trees – one for every U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia – that surround the national Christmas tree.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot fir tree decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white and green, as a local choir and a “quartet” from the U.S. Marine Band performed.

Ninety years later, the tree-lighting ceremony has become a family must-see, whether in person in Washington, D.C., or on TV in a special National Park Service and National Park Foundation program featuring entertainers from multiple genres.

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