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Fourth- and fifth-grade students in Yelena Olacsi’s art classes created the Easter egg design that will be on display at the White House Easter Egg Roll. The final look will be a combination of symbolic images and traditional European Easter egg elements.

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Nearly all 200 fourth- and fifth-graders at an elementary school on Fort Carson have heard of the White House Easter Egg Roll. But they never thought they’d have a personal connection to the historic annual tradition.

Weikel Elementary School students learned last week they had been selected to design an egg representing Colorado that will be displayed at the White House during the April 22 event.

“They couldn’t believe it was true,” said art teacher Yelena Olacsi.

She gave the older students the choice of being involved with decorating the very special egg.

No one said no.

“Everyone’s on board,” Olacsi said. “The kids are so excited.”

Students have been working hard to come up with a design that speaks of Colorado, as the school’s egg will be the only one from the state.

“It’s an opportunity for students to learn about White House traditions and also showcase their art skills,” said Weikel Principal Misty DeHerrera.

Elmer Harris, a former Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 teacher and a 2017 U.S. Department of Education Fellow, nominated the school for the project.

Weikel is on the Army post, and nearly all of its students are from military families. With April being recognized nationally as Month of the Military Child, Harris said it’s a good time to spotlight the school.

“I thought it would be great to have military children provide their artistic perspective on something that will represent our state for an event at the White House,” Harris said.

“The school doesn’t have a long history, since it’s only been in operation since 2009, but it’s a special place, considering it was named after a student in D-8, Capt. Ian Weikel, who lost his life while serving in Iraq.”

It’s been hard to pinpoint what says Colorado to the rest of the nation on an egg, Olacsi said.

The final look will be a combination of symbolic images and traditional European Easter egg elements, she said.

“Ideas I printed out included the Colorado flag, the mountains, our state emblem, and the state flower, animal and bird,” Olacsi said. “So they could let their creativity go.”

Children took the project home over the weekend to bring back sketches.

“We’re looking for ones that are detailed, bright and catch attention,” Olacsi said.

Students’ submissions were narrowed down Tuesday to the final selection, by Anna Osborn, which features Colorado’s logo, mountains and animals.

“We thought Anna did a great job drawing accurately detailed symbols of our state, representing Colorado for what we are famous for — beautiful mountains, outdoor activities, stunning views — in a unique way,” Olacsi said.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will host this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on Monday after Easter. The event was created in 1878 under the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Children from across the United States will be represented through decorated eggs from each state being displayed as guests enter the event.

“Although it’s an elementary art project, their work is serving as the voice of Colorado at an event that has been happening long before their parents and grandparents were born,” Harris said.

He believes the project reflects the state as a whole.

“Despite the differences and uniqueness of the communities, there’s an overall vibe in each area that’s distinctly Colorado,” he said. “The same applies to Weikel’s students. Although many of them were born in locations throughout the United States and overseas, they get the opportunity to come together and create something that shows where and who they are at this moment in their lives. They’re Colorado.”

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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