Ornament designed by Joel Bridges, 14, of Sullivan High School

In 1923, a letter arrived at the White House from the District of Columbia Public Schools proposing that a decorated Christmas tree be placed on the South Lawn of the White House. 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.

That started a national tradition that has spanned 100 years. This year, schools from across the country have designed ornaments that will shine on the 58 trees around the National Christmas Tree.

In Missouri, the honor goes to Sullivan High School this year. Art teacher Valarie McEuen said ninth and tenth graders are showcasing their creativity.

Ornament designed by Emma Muir, 14, Sullivan High School

“It is an exceptional honor,” said McEuen. “We are the only school in the state of Missouri who participated this year. They only choose one school, so it’s an extremely prestigious event, I think, for the kids to be a part of.”

McEuen, along with teachers Melissa Fultz and Felicia Rhoads, helped with the project.

“What an honor,” she said. “I love getting my students artwork out. So oftentimes our kids don’t give themselves enough credit for their artistic abilities.”

McEuen said there is a theme involved.

Ornament designed by Aiden Kirk, 18, Sullivan High School

“We did not choose the theme. They (National Park Service) chose for us,” she said. “Basically, we were to focus on what is great about our state, focus on like state symbols, geographical features. Most of our students chose things that represented our local area here.”

The National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony will be December 11, from 7-8 p.m. CST on CBS. The ceremony will be available for the public to view at CBS.com beginning December 12. The public can also see the ornaments in person through January 1.

To hear the Show Me Today interview with Valarie McEuen, click below (11:31).

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