Each year, the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. is surrounded by smaller trees representing the states and territories of the United States. Only one school gets to decorate the Tennessee state tree. This year, it’s Fairview Middle School.

The school was chosen from a pool of teachers across the state. State of the Arts Program Director & Fine Arts Coordinator Todd Shipley contacted FMS art teacher Michelle Vinci about nominations for the honor.

“I nominated other teachers in other districts, and I thought I might as well throw our hat in the ring,” said Vinci. “I know a lot of other people applied, and I know they took a lot of nominations from other people.”

After doing some research, more than 20 students in the school’s art club worked for four days to create ornaments that represented Tennessee. From a raccoon to Johnny Cash, the students made small paper tags that showcase the state’s history.

“It’s an education for these guys to understand who these people are,” Vinci said. “We’re having discussions about why these people are being picked and why these places are being picked.”

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree is at the end of November, but Vinci wants to go see the entire display over winter break.

“I’m so excited for these kids,” Vinci said. “This is a one-shot opportunity.”