WIMS students share their experience making the nationally displayed ornaments

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    h/t Jenn Runsclosetolodge for all the photos

    Last week, we got a sneak peak video of the ornaments created by Wyoming Indian Middle School students that are now displayed on one of the fifty-six trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC.


    “This was a good opportunity for the students to show the diversity that exists in Wyoming,” WIMS teacher Jenn Runsclosetolodge shared. The one-of-a-kind ornaments are symbolic of “their history, culture, and traditions while also representing the horse culture of Wyoming.”

    County 10 got the opportunity to chat with four of the eighth-graders involved in the ornament creation and their teacher Jenn last week. Below is what they shared about the artistic process and their design.

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    Inside each ornament is a suspended, handpainted horse named “Independent Spirit” that was designed by WIMS eighth-grader Dante Shakespeare. “We wanted to do something different instead of painting the outside,” shared Jenn. The suspended horse is hung with tippet line and weighed down with a brass bead to make it look like it’s galloping when the ornaments move. The inspiration for a galloping horse comes from the wild horses on the Wind River Reservation, Dante explained. “They are always running.”

    The horses are painted red to symbolize life and each one has an evening star to represent our clear night skies. “Not every kid their age gets to go outside and see the big sky and see the stars,” Jenn shared. Next to the star are traditional mountain designs in blue to symbolize the headwaters flowing from the Wind River Mountains. “Water is life.”


    Dante shared the evening star and mountains along with designing the horse were his favorite parts of the process.

    A gold, glittery sparkle was modge podged to each ornament by eighth-graders Deja Redman and Lariah Timbana. This was Lariah’s favorite part of the process. Even though they had a tedious job of brushing the excess glitter out so they were not too cloudy. Deja’s favorite part was weighing down the horses with brass beads.

    The ornaments were finished by sealing the 24 plastic softball-sized balls and adding bows to them. This was eighth-grader Lailoni Tindall’s favorite part of the process.


    All the students agreed the hardest part was keeping this project a secret. They also shared there was a lot of pressure to get them completed and sent off by the deadline. It took some time to come up with an idea and then how to make it work, Jenn noted. The eighth-graders worked on the ornaments during class and after school. In all, about 30 hours to complete them.

    Now that the ornaments are on display and no longer a secret, the students shared their thoughts about the project:

    “I think it was fun to do something to represent Wyoming and it got to be put on the National Christmas Tree display,” Lariah said.

    “I’m amazed, and speechless,” Lailoni shared.

    “I was nervous because there are 1000s of people looking at our ornaments and that they are representing Wyoming,” Dante noted.

    “This was an excellent opportunity for them to not only show their history and culture but their artistic talent,” Jenn explained. “There is a lot more than athletics going on at WIMS. Our students have a lot of talent in dancing, singing, and art as well as our language. It gives us an opportunity to show what our students can do.”

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