Students decorate Christmas ornaments for the White House - CS Alliance

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Students decorate Christmas ornaments for the White House

NEW BEDFORD — It has been a very exciting time at Saint James Saint John Catholic School in New Bedford as students create 24 one-of-a-kind ornaments depicting the state of Massachusetts for the National Christmas Tree celebration in Washington D.C.

The hand-painted ornaments will adorn one of the 56 smaller trees that will surround the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in President’s Park since their school was chosen to represent the Bay State at the America Celebrates display featuring a tree for each U.S. state, territory or the District of Columbia.

Saint James Saint John students and teachers are expected to be in attendance when the 97th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Dec. 5.

“Everyone has a home but not everyone has the honor of representing their home in Washington, D.C.,” Danica Lambert, a seventh grader at St. James St. John School, said. “My heart is filled with love and joy to be able to represent my home of Massachusetts.”

Saint James Saint John School Principal Cristina Viveiros-Serra said the Christmas ornament project has been a wonderful experience for all involved.

“The students have committed themselves to stay after school and working on the ornaments and when the announcement was made to come to Washington D.C. for the tree lighting the students were ecstatic,” Viveiros-Serra told O Jornal.

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Education worked with state art and education agencies to identify elementary, middle and high schools whose students would create the ornaments for the America Celebrates display. Over 1,500 students will participate in this year’s project. The project is funded by the National Park Foundation.

The Saint James Saint John School principal said she is especially appreciative of Mrs. Daphne Costa, the seventh grade teacher who has worked so hard on this project and spent countless hours working with the students.

According to Mrs. Costa, the students are overwhelmed with joy and pride in taking part in this historic event.

“The students have been able to unlock their artistic abilities and add their own personal touch to their respective ornaments,” said Mrs. Costa, adding that everyone is looking forward to visiting Washington D.C. for the event and experiencing the sites that most have only seen on TV or on the back of money.

“An added benefit to this project is that students have been able to learn more about the history of Massachusetts, the important landmarks and the extraordinary men and women from the state that helped shape this country,” she said.

Currently located at 180 Orchard St., Saint James Saint John School has had a closer relationship with the Portuguese community for many decades, as it resulted from the merger of a school founded by the now-extinct St. John the Baptist Parish to satisfy the need to educate the children of its primarily Portuguese congregation and another school associated with St. James parish.

“My greatest appreciation goes to working with a staff of teachers that are committed to unity,” said Viveiros-Serra. “The teaching staff is committed and works endlessly in looking for ways to improve their practice. This is what makes St.James-St.John School special.”

To help defray the cost of the trip to Washington, the school has set up a crowdfunding campaign. For more information or make a donation, please visit

By Lurdes C. da Silva / O Jornal editor. Originally published by the Herald News on October 31, 2019.

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