Their art teacher, Lauren Ellison, chose the Mina Elementary School fourth-graders to help design and create an ornament representing the history and culture of Bastrop for the Texas House's district ornament project.
Each member of the House -- in the case of Bastrop, state Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt -- chooses a location from his or her district each year to decorate an ornament for the 20-foot tall Christmas tree which will be on display on the floor of the Texas House through Jan. 2.
But the ornaments' reach goes far beyond the start of the new year. Each ornament is photographed and a description of its significance is entered into an album for visitors to the chamber and to the House website to enjoy.
"I feel like the luckiest art teacher in the world, to be able to teach these kids with the creativity and passion they have for art," Ellison said.
She said the girls brainstormed on how to best represent the spirit of Bastrop and agreed incorporating an aspect of the fires and the strength of the community was important. They then met with Ellison and worked on creating the design.
The result was the ornament's design of Loblolly pines under a sky inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night," which Ellison said was Robles' idea.
Other touches, she added, such as the pine needles which fill the inside of the glass ornament, and the bear footprints and eagles circling the sky overhead, represent all of the Bastrop school district's students.
"It came from the heart," Ellison said of the design. "We all love Bastrop."
Ellison herself was chosen to oversee the project by Staci Gideon, coordinator of fine arts at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Performing Arts Center. Gideon said she knew she'd like to have an elementary campus given the honor or decorating the ornament, but had a hard time deciding which one.
"I was trying to think of one of the elementary schools that were affected by the fires. I could have picked just about any of them," Gideon said, adding she eventually decided on Mina because so many of the students had been affected and because of Ellison's flair for art and creativity.