By Lori BODNAR, intern
“I Matter Because …” was the theme this year for the 2020-21 National PTA Reflections Art Program contest. Students were invited to submit art reflecting that theme that fell within various categories including visual arts, photography, music composition, dance choreography, film production and literature. Various age categories are established for the different judging levels, including primary (TK-2nd), intermediate (3rd-5th), middle school (6th-8th) and high school (9th-12th). The special artist category is for students with disabilities.
The PTA Reflections program was founded in 1969 and since then over 300,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade have created original works of art through the program each year. (See CV Weekly Oct. 1 article, “Examining Self-Worth is Reflections Theme”.)
Crescenta Valley High School had several students participate in the 2020-21 PTA Reflections contest. Those students at the high school level who earned awards of excellence will move on to the council level of PTA to compete. Winners from council can move on to state and national levels of competition.
CVHS students who earned awards of excellence for their Reflections entries included Jana Coffeen with her photography piece titled “Canned Goods,” Ashlyn Burton with her visual arts work “Be the Light,” Logan Byeon in literature for his story named “A Time of Realization: Self Worth,” David Khadian in music composition for his piece named “Life as a Minor” and Sophia Lee with her dance choreography work titled “Choose.”
The CVHS students recognized for awards of merit were Rachel Arias for her photograph titled “I Sang You a Song,” Telaya Blunt for her visual arts work named “Navigating the Tumultuous World,” Alden Marriott for his music composition piece called “The Rhythm of Productivity” and Natalie Keledjian for a dance choreography work titled “I Matter Because I Love Myself.” Honorable mentions were awarded to Kenneth Kotah in photography for “The Greys in Life” and Kassidy Knight in music composition for the piece “Little Girl.” The diverse artworks reflected the variety of talented students at Crescenta Valley High School.
Local elementary schools also held their own PTA Reflections contests. Mountain Avenue Elementary School, which was recently honored as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School, hosted a Reflections award ceremony virtually via Zoom to recognize student winners and participants. About 30 students submitted a total of 46 entries in the Mountain Avenue Reflections contest this year, the highest participation of all of schools within Glendale Unified School District (GUSD).
There are 556 students at Mountain Avenue Elementary and 572 PTA members.
“Mountain Avenue students continue to shine with their artistic talents, even during distance learning,” said Principal Jaclyn Scott. “I am so impressed with the creativity – from music and dance composition to poetry and visual art. While we can’t all be together under the same roof, our amazing PTA has been creative to provide opportunities to bring our school community together through technology.
The partnership between school and home is clearly evident through activities such as this. I am one proud principal.”
Added Kathy Necus, Mountain Avenue PTA President, “Reflections is a National PTA program that encourages students to unleash their creative talents, express themselves imaginatively, enjoy making art and use critical-thinking skills as they create their artwork. Mountain Avenue has a long history of student participation in Reflections and, despite the pandemic, that tradition continued this year. Seeing the students’ artwork, along with the dedication of our Reflections PTA volunteers, is inspiring and has helped keep our school community connected.”
Andrea Jansen is one of the Mountain Avenue PTA Reflections co-chairs. She was equally impressed by the submissions – both in quantity and quality.
“We have 16 art pieces moving up to council level!” she said. “Student submissions are reviewed by our impartial judges who have background or expertise in the area they are judging.”
The first place winners of each category move on to the council level for judging among all of the schools within GUSD,” Jansen said. “This year, especially, I thought it was important our students have a creative outlet to express themselves. We had a lot of entries that reflected students’ feelings on issues affecting the world right now: the pandemic, social justice and racism, etc. I was happy to be a part of providing a positive outlet for them to share those feelings and inspire our communities through art. I love that Reflections not only gives students an opportunity to share their creativity and talents, but also engages them to reflect on a theme. This year our theme is, ‘I Matter Because…’ What could be more important than getting our children thinking about why they are important in their families, communities, and schools?”
There have been some changes in the process of submitting, judging and recognizing students’ artwork for PTA Reflections due to the pandemic.
“Last year, we accepted physical pieces, the judges gathered together to judge the entries, and we hosted an in-person awards recognition ceremony to honor the winners,” said Mountain Avenue Elementary Reflections co-chair. “This year, all submissions were sent electronically with very few physical pieces dropped at the school by request. The judges were virtual and submitted their feedback electronically, which allowed us greater opportunity to identify judges with special backgrounds and expertise in the various categories since we weren’t limited by judge location. We hosted our Recognition awards event this year virtually via Zoom, showcasing a slideshow of student work, which allowed every family to attend and every student who participated to be honored, not just those who placed.”
In the Dance Choreography Intermediate Category, Suzanna Bodnar won 1st place for her dance called I Matter Because I Shine and Fly.
In Film Production for the Primary Division, Shane Jansen won 1st Place for his film I’m a Wild Explorer and Aiden Lobbia won 2nd Place for We All Matter, We All Have Our Roles. In the Intermediate age category, Zachary Yang placed first for The Reason I Matter, Oliver Perner scored second for A Little Help From My Friends, and Paige Jansen won third with her film Looking Inside Nature. In the Middle School level, Thomas Powell won first place for his film How To Draw My Dog.
There were several entries in the Photography arts category. For the Primary level, Daisy Kim placed first with To Support Others Matters, Brendan Powell placed second with Ocean Beauty, and Alissa Cu placed third with Avocado Tree. For Intermediate Division, Suzanna Bodnar won 1st Place for her photograph of I’m Unique Like A Snowflake. John Chun won 2nd Place for his photo titled Enjoying Nature. Thomas Powell won first place for the Middle School division with his work titled My Taco.
The Music Composition arts category involves students creating their own beautiful music through song or instruments. At the Primary level, Izaan Zaman placed first for his song I Matter Because. Brendan Powell won both 2nd and 3rd place for his musical pieces titled Frog Leaping Song and Color Rainbow Song. At the Intermediate level, first place winner was Sutton Roosa for Sound Equality. Second place went to Suzanna Bodnar for her piano piece The Key to Love. William Shin placed third with his melody I Matter Because I Love Music. Suzanna Bodnar also earned an Honorable Mention for her song I Can Fly High Up To The Sky. Zachary Yang earned an Honorable Mention song titled Because I Matter. Zyan Zaman also won Honorable Mention for his music piece I Matter. In Middle School division, Mark Shin won 1st Place in Music Composition with his song Springfield.
In the Literature Category Intermediate Division, Pranav Arunachalam won both 1st and 2nd Place for his writing I Matter Because I Am a Good Citizen and I Matter Because I Am a Good Brother. John Chun won 3rd Place for his work titled Nature. Pranav’s brother, Vivek Arunachalam, won an Honorable Mention for his writing I Matter Because I Am a Good Friend. Valentina Luna also won an Honorable Mention for All Together, One Race. In the Middle School Division, Zora McCoy earned first place for her spoken literature podcast titled I Matter Because. Abbie Davidson won second place for her story Good Old Days.
There are many talented artists in our community! The PTA Reflections program is a way for student artists to showcase their talents and bring the community together.