Students help Oklahoma governor welcome holiday season

About 1,500 students show up at the Oklahoma Capitol to decorate artificial trees throughout the building. Many stay to watch the governor preside over the lighting of a 30-foot artificial tree on the south steps outside the Capitol.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: November 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm •  Published: November 30, 2012

Madison Gaches and other fourth-graders at Checotah Intermediate School received a special treat after decorating their tree. State Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, arranged for the students to go on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Kiana Friesen, an eighth-grader at Fort Cobb-Broxton Middle School, helped decorate her school's tree, which has an American Indian theme. Feathers topped the tree, which has ornaments depicting horses and tepees.

“We wanted to do something different,” said eighth-grader Samantha Wilson.

Mallory Tiser, a sixth-grader at Newman Middle School in Skiatook, was among dozens of students who had her picture taken with Fallin. Her school's tree, called “Reading Wonderland,” featured ornaments depicting the title of books.

Sherrie Redding, the school's assistant principal, said the 560 students in grades, 6, 7 and 8 are being challenged to read 1 million pages of books in both paper and electronic form by the end of the school year. Already, students have read about 360,000 pages; one student alone has read about 18,000 pages.

Redding said she and the school's principal have agreed to have their hair dyed an outrageous color if the students meet the challenge.

The high school student council from the governor's hometown used a more serious theme for their tree. The Tecumseh High School Student Council's tree was decorated in pink and was decorated with ornaments showing pictures of those in the area who are cancer survivors and those who have succumbed to the disease.

Casey Jo Sehon, a Tecumseh High School senior, said she was excited to see Fallin, who gave the students some advice.

“She said that if we work hard and stay in school and do our best that we can end up being governors or whatever we want to be,” Sehon said.