Idaho girl's ornament placed on White House tree

Idaho StatesmanDecember 7, 2013 

Somewhere in Idaho, a young girl may not realize her holiday ornament made it onto the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room.

Boise native Kristine Schellhaas spotted the simple paper ornament with an outline of the state of Idaho and signed "Gabby" during a holiday tour of the White House on Saturday for spouses of military officers.

She took a photo and submitted it to the Statesman, hoping that someone might know Gabby and could identify the youngster.

"I don't know Gabby but I saw that her name was clearly written so I thought it would be worth a try," Schellhaas wrote.

"I wanted Gabby to know that her picture made it onto the Christmas tree."

It's possible that Gabby is the daughter of a member of the military, because her ornament was found on the nearly 19-foot Douglas Fir grown by Chris Botek of Lehighton, Penn. According to the White House, the Blue Room tree features decorations honoring military families and the ornaments come from children living on military bases.

The only military base in Idaho is the Mountain Home Air Force Base. The base's public affairs officers were not available Saturday evening to say whether Gabby is the daughter of one of their airmen.

Both Schellhaas and her husband, Marine Corps Maj. Ross Schellhaas grew up in Boise and graduated from Boise State University.

Ross Schellhaas has served in the Marines for 18 years and their family currently resides in Quantico, Va. The couple have two children, Quaid, 9, and Annika, 5.

"A really cool thing to see at the White House are the cards that all the Presidents sent out throughout the years," Kristine Schellhaas wrote.

Designs were chosen to reflect the gem-like qualities of the Gem State. Students were inspired by glass artist Dale Chihuly from Tacoma, Wash., known for using discarded plastic in his designs. The students melted, shaped and colored plastic containers in creating their ornaments.

One of the designs, from student Ethan Seward, features the mountain bluebird, Idaho's state bird, inside a glass orb. Others feature the syringa, Idaho's state flower, and an Appaloosa, the state horse.

"It is an honor to have been selected to represent our state through this artistic process," Fairmont art teacher Ritta Nielsen said in a written release. "Working on such a project validates the students' ideas and creative efforts and gives them a hugely meaningful sense of purpose."

Students from Boise's Fairmont Junior High were selected to provide 20 glass ornaments for Idaho's tree in President's Park across from the White House. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories are represented with their own tree.

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