To help decorate the school's stage for the upcoming Christmas program, Guy-Perkins students were encouraged to create and decorate trees to represent their classrooms.

In spirit of education and the holiday season, one group of third graders, with the help of their parents, constructed a tree composed of books.

Third-grade teacher Emily Harris said she was proud of her students and thankful for the parents who helped make this project possible.

"Several students donated the books to help create it. I had parents send their old college textbooks," Harris said, excitedly. "Our own librarian donated a majority of the books. Then, two parents set a date and put it together. Becky Vickers, one parent, is an interior decorator and Realtor. The other parent [was] Paige Fortner."

The tree is made of a variety of book types, paperback and hardcovers, spiraled together with holiday cheer, and a few ornamental pieces scattered from the base to the top. For a tree topper, students opted to use a globe with a ribbon-bound base.

Parents who helped set up the piece said they were equally as passionate about the project as Harris and her students.

"I'm so excited about this tree," Vickers said. "It is fun but also full of symbolism. It's like an 'I Spy' book, you can pick out different ornaments on the tree that represent what reading has to offer. You will find the wise old owl, a witty fox, a set of keys, an airplane and, to pull it all together, a topper of an open book with the world coming out of it."

Participating in setting up the tree was an enjoyable, memorable experience, the Guy-Perkins parent said. Vickers said she also hopes the piece helps to inspire children to explore reading further.

"We have a world at our fingertips and endless adventures when we open a book," she said. "We really had fun putting [the tree] together and hope the kids and staff at Guy-Perkins enjoy it as much as we do."

Helping to set up the spiraled, carefully pieced-together book tree also allowed participating parents to tap into their inner child and reminisce on some of their past-time favorite reads.

"Being able to see the children's faces of surprise when we created such a cool and intriguing tree out of their old books was most rewarding. Not to mention, it brought back childhood memories for us as parents when we scrimmaged through old books like 'David Copperfield' and 'The Wizard of Oz,'" Fortner said. "[It really] brought back the child in all of us."

Several students said they find the tree encouraging, noting it inspires them to delve into new books.

"It inspires us to read and reminds us that it's almost Christmas time because the books represent a tree," third grader Joseph Vetor said.

Another student said the project has motivated her to always continue striving to do better.

"It encourages us to work hard and even if something seems hard, just keep trying," young Ashley Caldwell said.

Guy-Perkins Elementary Principal Tammy Murry said she was happy to see Harris' class put a creative twist on their project and hopes each group of students enjoys working together on their classroom project.

"It's amazing," she said of the book tree. "Books are one of my favorite things."

The Christmas tree project hopefully will allow students to tap into their creative roots as they piece together what makes them a unique group, Murry said.

"We want to establish a creative environment for our kids to learn in," she said. "We want learning to be fun."

Harris said she was thankful for the creative touch her class and classroom parents put into this project, noting that those who helped set the piece were dedicated to the project because at one point, they had to take it down and set it all back up.

The group of third graders also surprised Harris, she said, adding that the young cluster picked out an Angel Tree child and have since provided everything to help provide Christmas cheer to another youngster.

The students she has taught throughout the years always surprise her in their giving nature and their creative tendencies, Harris said.

"This is the first year I've ever done a class Christmas tree. But, my class does projects often," she said. "A big one is that every November, students get grocery ads, plan their meal, round it and total it. Then, they create a 3-D plate of their food with construction paper. This year, we have done several projects and I post them on Facebook for votes. It seems the students work harder and with more pride when they know it's for more than [just] 'a grade.'"