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Leggee students deck Shedd Aquarium halls

Phowreath made by second third graders Leggee Elementary School Huntley combined second third grade classes which made wreath.

Photo of wreath made by second and third graders at Leggee Elementary School in Huntley and of combined second and third grade classes which made the wreath.

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Updated: January 15, 2013 11:31AM

HUNTLEY — About 50 second and third grade students at Leggee Elementary School have helped deck the halls for the holidays at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.

And there’s a chance their combined cool Yuletide effort might lead to a behind-the-scenes field trip to one of the big city’s biggest tourist attractions.

What the two classes did together was make and enter a wreath into a contest the aquarium is having for the second time.

In the Wreath-Cycled Classroom Challenge, sponsored by the McDonald’s Owner Operators of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, students from kindergarten to high school levels were charged with building wreaths out of recycled or recyclable materials.

That’s pretty much how third-grader Cona DeLuca explained it just before lunch Thursday.

Fellow third-grader McKenna Jaggers said their wreath is about the size of one of their wooden desktops and is packed with items building on a theme of helping animals.

To that end, second-grader Kara Zimolzak contributed a fish made out of a plastic bottle to the project, which also features a version of the Chicago lakefront skyline, an abundance of turtles, a few bivalves and other aquatic creatures added for good measure.

The wreaths are hanging throughout the aquarium through Jan. 7, and the winning entries in the contest was to be announced Saturday. Each wreath must be accompanied by a short essay, too, which the Leggee classes composed collectively.

Melissa Williams, vice president of learning for Shedd, said that last year about 120 classrooms took part in the promotion, while this season 150 classrooms at 50 schools are participating.

“It’s a great way to connect writing, art, and science,” Williams said.

On Saturday (Dec. 15) all classrooms vying for the top prizes have been invited to Shedd, free of charge, for a celebration with Ronald McDonald where the winners will be announced. According to the Leggee students, hot cocoa and cookies have been promised. For some, it will be their first visit to the aquarium.

One winner will be chosen in each grade level (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12) for each of three categories: overall winner, most creative, and best educational message. Across all grade levels (K-12), one fan favorite submission will be selected onsite and one chosen through Shedd’s Facebook page will also be chosen. The winning classrooms will be treated to an all-inclusive field trip to Shedd.

Third-grade teacher Kate McCormick said that after she heard about the contest through art teacher Krysta Bodner, she decided to enter her students along with their reading buddies in the second-grade class taught by Lisa Kunde.

“This has turned into a big, fun project for the school and the district,” McCormick said.

McCormick noted the students are excited, and their work already has garnished about 600 votes on the Shedd’s Facebook site. That voting closes at noon Friday.

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