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Published: Thursday, 12/14/2006

Teacher's art to adorn Taft's tree - again

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jennifer Bucher explains her 2005 winning ornament, an angel that is projected behind her, to student Madeline Crandall, with ponytail. From left in the foreground are students Joshua Park, Billy Fong and Cassie Arvay. Jennifer Bucher explains her 2005 winning ornament, an angel that is projected behind her, to student Madeline Crandall, with ponytail. From left in the foreground are students Joshua Park, Billy Fong and Cassie Arvay.
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As a guest at the Governor's Residence, Sylvania art teacher Jennifer Bucher figured it wouldn't be proper or polite if she climbed over pots of poinsettias to take a peek at some holiday trees.

Mrs. Bucher, who was attending a reception for Ohio residents whose handcrafted ornaments were selected to adorn the governor's tree, wanted to get closer to the trees to find the ornament that she created last year.

An art specialist with Sylvania Schools for 14 years, Mrs. Bucher entered the Treasures for the Tree contest last year and this year, and her ornaments were selected as winning entries both years. Only 50 ornaments, out of hundreds of entries, were chosen this year.

The ornaments, which are on display at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, will become part of its permanent collection.

This is the sixth year that the First Lady and Governor Taft sponsored the competition, said Martin W. Nagy, executive director of the Arts Council Lake Erie West.

Mr. Nagy added that he hopes that the new governor will continue the Treasures for the Tree tradition.

The arts council accepted ornament entries from the northwest Ohio region and selected 12 ornaments for the holiday tree; a top winner from the region was named during the reception at the Governor's Residence.

Others from northwest Ohio whose ornaments were selected were:

Amy Beeler-Harmon, of Oregon; Denise Carter of Bowling Green; Daniel Czarnecki, of Findlay; Sandy Dobbelaere of Oakwood; Sue Helle, of Paulding; Jean Orians, of Upper Sandusky; Gary Rhiel, of Elmore; Jayne Smiley of Paulding; Jane Weller of Continental, and Bobbi Yeager of Defiance.

Overall winner for the region was Linda Radcliff of Fostoria, who received a $200 cash award provided by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, according to Mr. Nagy.

Ms. Beeler-Harmon, 30, an artist who has a fine arts degree from Bowling Green State University, said that this is her first experience with the Treasures for the Tree contest.

But she plans to enter in the coming years if the contest continues after the new governor, Ted Strickland, takes office.

She crafted her "Pearly White Christmas" ornament from sterling silver and decorated it with freshwater pearls.

Some of the winning ornaments were fancy; others were folksy or whimsical, said Mrs. Bucher, who teaches art at Sylvania's Stranahan and Sylvan elementary schools.

She kept the students in the loop as she designed, created, and entered the ornaments in the contest.

"It shows them what artists can do," she said.

She teaches arts and crafts of Ohio to her fourth-grade students, and she introduces information to her students about the state's symbols, including some that appear on her ornaments.

The handmade dress that her 2005 "Ohio Angel" ornament is wearing features puffs on the sleeves that resemble trillium, the state wildflower, and the bodice looks like the state flag; beads on the angel's wings symbolize the sun's rays on the state seal, and Buckeye brown beads adorn the angel's hair.

Symbolism for the state is incorporated in the 2006 ornament that she calls "Ohio, the Heart of it All," such as details from the state's seal.

"She can do pretty good stuff," said Taylor Geiman, a fourth-grade student at Stranahan.

She enjoys the projects that Mrs. Bucher assigns to the students.

Her particular favorite was the one project that involved the art students creating masks similar to those that Ohio's Seneca Indians made from corn husks after the harvest season.

The tribe made the masks to bring good luck for future harvests, Mrs. Bucher said.

Bob Biglin, Stranahan's principal, said that Mrs. Bucher passes along her passion for art to her students.

"The kids love to do art," he said. "She is a skilled and talented teacher."



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