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County tree decorated with a touch of Carlynton

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 1:33 p.m.

Ornaments designed by a Carlynton Junior-Senior High School art class took first place in the county's Municipali-Tree Contest.

This year, rather than decorate the county tree with its usual colored ornaments, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald invited students from schools throughout the county to design ornaments that represent not just their school districts but the municipalities that make up the district, as well.

“The students really got on board and were excited about seeing it through to the end,” said Carlynton art teacher Marlynn Vayanos. Her senior high crafts class designed and created the ornaments.

The students submitted four ornaments — one representing the district as a whole and one representing each of the three communities that make up the district: Carnegie, Crafton and Rosslyn Farms. The students used green plastic pop bottles and brass sheet metal to represent the school colors of green and gold. A paw-print shape was used for the district ornament, and a community landmark was chosen for each borough.

The team of Luke Ankrom, Pamela Meighan, Christina Santillo and Priya Sobti drew the designs by hand and transferred them to the brass using embossing tools, but Vayanos said it was a class effort.

“It was a collaborative effort from the brainstorming to finding the materials,” she said.

Sobti said the time crunch was a little difficult. The class found out about the contest in early October, and the deadline for submissions was Oct. 25.

“The process itself wasn't so difficult as gathering the necessary materials and coordinating a plan in the time given,” Sobti said. “Thanks to my classmates and teacher, we managed to pull everything together in order for me to begin working on it.”

Students from the class were invited to the county courthouse Nov. 19 to hang not just their first-place ornaments but also the 100 submitted from schools across the county.

“I think from an art standpoint, it helps them to apply what they're learning and see how that's valuable,” Vayanos said. “In the end, they got to see the process pay off, as well as to be representatives of the community as a whole in a positive way.”

Sobti said it was exciting to see the class's work on the tree in downtown Pittsburgh.

“I felt really proud that I got to see it hang up on the tree,” she said. “I hope a lot of people will see it and enjoy it.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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