By Lori BODNAR, intern
“I Matter Because …” is the theme of the 2020-21 National Reflections art program sponsored by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The PTA National Reflections program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts, which is thought to boost student confidence and success in the arts as well as in life.
The program was established in 1969 by Colorado State PTA President Mary Lou Anderson. Students from grades pre-K to 12 can participate in Reflections by submitting their own original creative work in one or more of the various Reflections categories. The different categories are visual arts, literature, film production, photography, dance choreography and music composition. The deadline for submission depends on the school, so students should visit their school’s website for more information about the Reflections deadline; most deadlines are early October.
Each year, over 300,000 students nationwide submit their works of art in the PTA Reflections art program. The Reflections program has been helping students develop and cultivate their creativity and artistic ability for over 50 years; even the annual Reflections theme is created by students. This year’s theme was submitted by a then-first grader named Rylee Stier who drew inspiration from her town being impacted by the 2018wildfires in California.
There are many different levels of Reflections. According to the California State PTA website, the artworks are submitted first to school-level PTAs, where they are first recognized and judged by five grade-level divisions. A non-judged special artists division celebrates student artists with special needs. School PTAs then choose a selection of entries to be judged by local PTA units, which are then sent on to councils and then districts for consideration. The final artworks submitted to California State PTA by districts are then considered for Outstanding Interpretation, Awards of Excellence or Awards of Merit. Outstanding Interpretation and Award of Excellence entries then go on to represent California in the final National PTA judging round.
Due to the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, many schools prefer digital copies of artwork, although some have boxes set up outside of the school to accept 3D artwork entries as well. Check school websites for details.