Art department decorates Pat Summitt-themed holiday tree in governor’s mansion

Bearden’s art department has been chosen to decorate a holiday tree in the governor’s mansion this holiday season honoring Knoxville legend Pat Summitt.

Two weeks ago, Bearden art teacher Mr. Stan Hillard received a phone call from the office of the governor’s mansion asking Bearden to decorate one of about five holiday trees representing different parts of Tennessee. Although the reason Bearden was chosen is still unknown, Mr. Hillard was told that Bearden was the only school from East Tennessee to be chosen.

Bearden will represent East Tennessee in the collection of trees themed on Tennessee legends, both living and deceased.

Bearden art students were asked to create original ornaments to decorate the tree. All art students from Art 1 to Advanced Art and Photography participated in creating the ornaments.

“It became a huge project for the whole art department, so all the classes were involved,” Bearden art teacher Mrs. Victoria Cunningham said.

Bearden art teacher Mrs. Anna Boyd said that students had to do some research on Summitt as well in order to honor and represent her.

“We didn’t want 250 basketballs,” she said. “We wanted to dig a little deeper and find some interesting facts and accomplishments in her life.”

Mr. Hillard said that on Thursday, the Director of the Pat Summitt Foundation Patrick Wade came to Bearden to see the students’ ornaments and talk to the students about the Pat Summitt Foundation. He also spoke about Summitt’s contribution to her community and her fight with Alzheimer’s, Mr. Hillard said.

The ornaments were completed and sent to the mansion on Friday. The tree will be on display Dec. 2-7 and 9-14. More than 5,000 visitors are expected to see Bearden’s tree, and Bearden will be listed on a tour brochure.

“I am so pleased that my students had a chance to show their qualities,” Mr. Hillard said. “…[E]very day when the Governor walks by he’s going to think ‘Well, those kids know what they’re doing,’ and that’s the important part.”