HMS students design ornaments that now adorn White House Christmas trees

Hayden McNeese (right) was the student chosen for the top honor. HMS Principal Dr. David Schexnaydre and Talented Art teacher Monika Rogan represented HMS at the event.

Harry Hurst Middle School was chosen to represent Louisiana in Washington, D.C. at the National Christmas Tree Lighting this year. Talented Arts students from Hurst created ornaments that now hang on the state tree in President’s Park and on the National Tree in the White House.

HMS Principal Dr. David Schexnaydre and Talented Art teacher Monika Rogan represented Hurst and the state of Louisiana at the event, which was televised on CBS on Dec. 11. The lighting is now available for the public to view at

The opportunity for HMS students was offered to Schexnaydre as Louisiana State Principal of the Year.

“I knew it was an incredible opportunity for our students and wanted to make sure we took advantage of it,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of them and our school. To be able to represent the entire state at the White House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Our kids will always be able to list that as an accomplishment and know that their work received that level of recognition. It’s something that our entire school and community can be proud of.”

Rogan said that 55 of her students submitted ornaments for consideration, and in the end 24 were selected for the Louisiana State Tree that is in President’s Park. Of those 24, it was seventh-grader Hayden McNeese’s ornament that was selected to be on the National Tree in the White House.

McNeese said she wanted her ornament to include all things about Louisiana – from the bayou, New Orleans, music, food, sports, Mardi Gras, and family traditions.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I am very excited,” McNeese said. “I did not expect to win, but it is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life. I am very passionate about theatre and visual art.”

Rogan said she is extremely proud of all her students who participated and created such unique pieces.

“We took a little piece of every part of our area and we represented it well,” she said.

To view pictures of the HMS tree and others, visit the President’s Park Facebook page.


About Monique Roth 919 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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