By Samantha SLAYBACK
The Parent Teacher Association has encouraged students across the nation to take part in the arts since its PTA Reflections program began in 1969. Since that time, over 10 million students have participated and each year six students have been recognized nationally for their artistic ability.
Each year, the PTA announces a new theme which students are encouraged to artistically interpret. The theme announced for 2014-15 PTA Reflections is, “The world would be a better place if …” Students from pre-school to 12th grade are allowed to enter in one of six artistic divisions: visual arts, literature, photography, dance choreography, music composition and film production.
The California State PTA Reflections has five levels in which a student can enter based on their educational development. The primary level caters to students in pre-school through second grade; the intermediate level is for those in third through fifth grades; the middle/junior level is open to those in sixth through eighth grades; and the senior level is for students in ninth through 12th grades. Fairly recently a fifth level of entry – special artists – was added to accommodate those whose physical or mental disabilities meet the guidelines of the American Disabilities Act.
Each year, 30 California contestants are recognized for their artistic works. All winners receive an expense-paid trip for themselves and one parent to the California State PTA Convention for the opportunity to showcase or perform their art. There, they are also gifted with a California State PTA Award of Excellence certificate and medal, along with a $100 savings bond presented to them on stage. The 30 chosen students will also be entered to represent California at the national level. Those lucky six students who receive the National PTA Award of Excellence are then recognized at the annual National PTA Convention and are granted the honor of having their artwork featured as a part of the programs national, traveling exhibit.
Last year, national 2013-14 special artist winner Jessica Clay choreographed a dance to the “Glee” version of “Imagine” by John Lennon. She described her creation as “an integrated dance which brings people with and without disabilities together.” In the video submission she is shown in an electric wheelchair, following the choreography alongside a dancer without physical disabilities. The video, which can be found on the PTA website, shows them dancing in unison despite their physical differences.
“I hope my dance can educate and open people’s minds,” said Clay in her submission description. “I hope to inspire some social change and make a difference in this world.”
For more information pertaining to the PTA Reflections program or instructions on how to submit student artwork, visit pta.org and look for the “At School” tab in the upper right of the page. Keep in mind, each PTA sets its own deadlines. For a specific deadline, contact that specific school and inquire about its PTA division.