Artist Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky and Students of McCluer South-Berkeley High School Selected to Create Missouri’s Ornaments to be Included in the 2014 “Pathway of Peace” in President’s Park

The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, announced today that artist Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky of Eureka, Mo., and the students of McCluer South-Berkeley High School in Ferguson, Mo., have been chosen to design and create ornaments to be included in the 2014 Pathway of Peace in President’s Park in Washington, D.C. Ochonicky and the McCluer South-Berkeley High School students join local artists and youth from each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

The Pathway of Peace is one of the highlights of the National Christmas Tree Lighting, a national event presented by the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service.
“Words cannot describe how very honored I was when asked to design Missouri’s ornament for a fourth time,” said artist Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky. “Working with the McCluer South-Berkeley students was wonderful.”

“We are thrilled for our students to have this opportunity to be a part of the Pathway of Peace,” said Lawrence W. Larrew, acting superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District. “The experience working with Ms. Ochonicky was amazing, and it is a great honor for our students to have their work displayed in our nation’s capital.”

Produced by 136 students, Ochonicky’s design is themed in black and white; the year on the ornament bottom and red berries and pine branches on the top. The Gateway Arch serves a giant hook for a lantern, its candle the symbol for the holiday season and representing the hope that Missouri is a light for truth and justice (as recent events in Ferguson have drawn attention to the area). “Missouri” has joyful winter touches of snowflakes and a candy cane, set against snowy crystals, frosty swirls and sparkling gold to highlight the beauty of the season.

Four weeks of holiday events in President’s Park will kick off with the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting, scheduled for December 4, 2014.

As one of America’s oldest holiday traditions, the National Christmas Tree Lighting began on Christmas Eve in 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge lit a Christmas tree in front of 3,000 spectators on the Ellipse in President’s Park. Since 1923, each succeeding President has carried on the tradition of what now has become a month-long event presented by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. In addition to the Pathway of Peace, President’s Park hosts a variety of family-oriented holiday attractions, including nightly holiday performances and a model train display.

For talent announcements, as well as other event details, please visit www.thenationaltree.org and follow the National Christmas Tree on Twitter at @TheNationalTree. Join the conversation online using the hashtag #NCTL2014.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District, located in suburban St. Louis, serves more than 11,000 students from pre-school through 12th grade with an excellent comprehensive educational program. Fully accredited by the State of Missouri, the Ferguson-Florissant School District operates 17 elementary schools, three middle schools, three A+ and NCA-CASI-accredited high schools and an alternative school. In addition, the District includes a nationally recognized early education program, the award-winning Challenger Learning Center space education facility and the Little Creek Nature Area, a 97-acre nature preserve which offers experiential learning opportunities for students in science, biology, ecology and related areas of study. For more information, visit www.fergflor.org.

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky has operated Stone Hollow Studio in her native Missouri as a professional artist since 1979, specializing in the American folk art of scrimshaw. She has vast experience in the arts, as an arts administrator, awards judge, educator and arts editor for the Healthy Planet magazine. Governor Jay Nixon has selected Ochonicky to create Missouri’s ornaments in 2010, 2011, 2013 and now in 2014. Her award-winning artwork can be found in museum, university, corporate and private collections throughout the world. www.stonehollowstudio.com.

The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.