ANDOVER — Each year, as we approach the holiday season, Pymatuning Valley High School traditionally holds a contest for school organizations and individuals to decorate a tree according to the theme of that year. Past themes have celebrated school spirit with themes like Golden Holidays for the 50th anniversary of the creation of Pymatuning Valley. It really creates a festive scene, and students enjoy the time they spend decorating their club’s tree and appreciate the opportunity to win prizes for their combination of creativity and hard work. The contest is sponsored by the school’s PRIDE Committee and run by Student Council.
In planning for it, this year’s theme was inspired by last year’s Advanced Placement Literature English class. The English classes have sponsored a “Crazy Can” Day in the past, and for bringing in canned food and non-perishables, students were rewarded with some free class time while the English teacher totals the number of servings the classes have produced. Last year’s junior AP Literature class found themselves enjoying the counting, and with a creative flair, started using the cans and boxes as blocks, creating clever can structures. After counting the servings on a good, the students would place their good where they saw fit, eventually creating an extravagantly designed sculpture of a castle. Their synthesis of imagination and willful work sparked the idea to continue the creation of such sculptures, and to incorporate it into the holiday tree contest.
Inspired by the volume of cans collected last year and by the desire for a theme, this year the contest is being called – Generosi-Trees! Dan Jackson, Pymatuning Valley’s new principal, really liked the idea of the canned food sculptures, but he felt that the school shouldn’t break with the tradition of the more traditional trees as well. So this year, after the Thanksgiving holiday, students will be decorating evergreens in the center of the walk and using the canned sculptures against the walls.
Amy Moyer, Student Council adviser and PRIDE Committee member, is very excited about the two-fold contest. “By allowing ‘different’ kinds of trees and holiday-themed creations, it really opens up the contest and the festivities to everyone. A group doesn’t have to have an artificial tree, which really held a lot of groups and classes back,” she said.
Jackson added that he feels that the canned food drive/sculpture contest enhances the tradition. He said, “(It) represents all that is good about the season and the school, but I want it to be more than symbolic; I want it to be blunt and obvious what good we can do together.”
The groups that have traditionally decorated the trees are still planning on participating and a few groups, including Student Council, National Honor Society and the Cheerleading Team, have already planned to participate in making their own sculptures. Many more are hoped and expected to come.
There are a variety of categories for which prizes will be awarded – most holiday spirit, greatest can collection, most original and Moyer said that she may add others depending on the number of entries. To add even more of an incentive, prizes of PV PRIDE Bucks will be awarded to the best sculptures for students to spend on the end of the year PRIDE Day.
During the last week of school, for one day, the high school is filled with fun activities and donated prizes for the students, all purchased through the power of the PRIDE bucks students earn throughout the year by doing their part to help with the school’s three goals of 3.0 average for each grade, 95 percent attendance and increasing pride in the school.