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BLOOMINGTON Bloomington High School students have put a new twist on celebrating Christmas by drawing attention to Easter.

Easter Seals, to be exact.

Students from various clubs and organizations at the school have created their own Festival of Trees, a mini version of The Baby Fold's Festival of Trees, which raised $135,000 for that organization this year.

The school's goal in fundraising is much more modest. This is the first year for the decorated-tree event, said Principal Cindy Helmers. Judging by its success, she said, it will be back again next year and for years to come.

Several of the trees are trimmed with purple and gold, the school colors. Some will be sold, but most will be dismantled and used again next year, Helmers said.

Students vote for their favorite trees by putting pennies, dimes or nickels in a cup at their favorite tree. The money raised goes to Easter Seals.

In addition to raising money, "It's very pretty," Helmers said of the decorated mini trees brightening the library.

Students matched their interests with the trees. The Environmental Science Club made recycled paper chains; the art club created "cool stars"; the yearbook club went with Purple Raider colors; and family studies students decorated with spools of thread and cookie cutters.

Annmarie Steffen, the sponsor of the pep club, helped students organize the event, which runs to the start of winter break.

The idea got started after Steffen was asked by a member of the yearbook club if the pep club was going to decorate the school for Christmas. Steffen bought about 13 mini trees on sale.

"I'm impressed. They are really cute," said Steffen, a family and consumer science teacher.

The African American Club decorated a traditional tree, and a second in silver and white as a tribute to Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement, who died in October.

Students also baked 80 dozen cookies for Home Sweet Home Ministries.

"Everyone is getting in the spirit," Steffen said.

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