State Representative John Wray and his wife, Michele, carried on a holiday tradition over the weekend by placing a hand-painted ornament designed by local artist and Ennis High senior, Sarah Nicolaysen, on the House Chamber Christmas tree.

Every year, each member of the Texas House of Representatives is given a clear glass ornament to decorate from their House District and place on the tree. This year marked the 10th for the district ornament project and the fourth year the Wrays trimmed the House Chamber tree.

“This is a House tradition that we have come to really enjoy. It is fascinating to see what these talented young artists design each year to depict something special about their city and county," Wray said. "Sarah did an incredible job and it is an honor to showcase her talent at the Capitol this year for visitors to see this holiday season."

Nicolaysen was asked to design something that represents what is special about Ennis. The ornament highlights three main elements of Ennis and Ellis County. The first is a steam engine prominently displayed to represent Ennis and its rich heritage as a railroad town. Nicolaysen incorporated the beautiful bluebonnets of Ennis around the ornament in conjunction with a beautiful Texas sky going from sunset to nightfall.

Nicolaysen is in AP Art and her second year in the Explorative Arts program at Ennis High School. She was selected for the project by Cheryl Kelly, program director.

"Sarah was chosen because I felt she would be a great fit for this project," Kelly explained. "She is an independent worker who specializes in painting and she has phenomenal ideas. She loves her town (lifelong resident) and did a great job of choosing the subject matter that best represented Ennis, our school, and our class. I trusted her judgment in this area."

The Texas House of Representatives proudly displays trees provided by the Texas Christmas tree Growers Association in conjunction with the organization's president, Archie Abrameis, including the 30-foot Virginia pine, compliments of Marshall and Sharlote Cathey, of Elves Farm in Denison. Additional trees include three seven-foot Virginia Pines, and two 10-foot Noble firs, compliments of Virginia and Archie Abrameit of Abrameit Tree Farm in Luling. The trees are located throughout the Capitol.

After receiving all 150 ornaments, photos will be posted in an online album available to the public via the House website. For information about the many Christmas activities in Austin, contact Representative Wray’s office at 512-463-0516 or at