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December 9, 2009 > Reflections Program brings out the artists within

Reflections Program brings out the artists within

By Julie Grabowski
Photos By William Mancebo

Parents are naturally the biggest advocates of their children, wanting them to have the best education along with enriching experiences that foster growth, confidence, and happiness. And what is better than receiving a drawing, story, or other creative project from their proud and shining faces?

The Reflections Program was established in 1969 through the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (PTA) to encourage creative expression and art appreciation in students. The annual event has welcomed over 10 million participants since its inception, giving students the opportunity to discover the thrill and satisfaction of creating their own personal art in a positive atmosphere, while showing the community the importance of keeping the arts in education.

PTA is a non-profit volunteer organization, and the oldest parent involvement group in the nation, founded in Washington, D.C. in 1897. Individual schools can join the organization, becoming known as a PTA unit and able to access the training, guidance, and various programs the PTA offers. Units are then gathered into councils, districts, states, and the nation. The Reflections Program is one of their great offerings, and one that Fremont schools have been involved with for many years. They currently have 29 PTA Schools and one special education PTA. "I love the Reflections Program. I think it provides a wonderful opportunity for our children to creatively express themselves, and receive acknowledgement for their work," says Fremont Council PTA Reflections Chairperson Becky Bruno. "I have seen the artwork displayed at the California State PTA Convention several times and personally have been in awe of the artwork this program inspires in our students."

Each year the Reflections Program sets a theme to inspire student creations. The 2009-2010 theme is "Beauty is..." Artwork is divided into six categories: Visual Art, Literature, Photography, Dance Choreography, Film Production, and Musical Composition. Student work is gathered and judged in four age groups: Primary-- kindergarten through second grade, intermediate-grades 3 through 5, Middle-6, 7, and 8th grades, and Senior-grades 9 through 12. A total of 695 pieces of artwork were submitted at the unit level from 17 participating Fremont PTA schools, with 277 Award of Excellence pieces submitted to Fremont Council PTA for further judging.

Teachers, parents, and students serve as judges, applying their own artistic backgrounds and experience to the corresponding category. Entries are judged on artistic merit, creativity, mastery of the medium, and most importantly, interpretation of the theme. All student information is kept hidden in the judging process so that the work may stand cleanly on its own. Work is critiqued against that of others in the same grade level, then divided into two award areas: Award of Merit and Award of Excellence. One piece from each age group in each of the six art categories will receive an Award of Excellence, the 24 winners moving on to Peralta District PTA for the next level of judging. The Peralta District encompasses other PTA councils and school districts eligible to participate, including Alameda Council, San Lorenzo Council, and schools in Hayward, Newark, and Union City. "Many students continue to participate in this program year after year," Bruno says. "In fact, one of our judges this year is a freshman in high school who had participated in it herself from kindergarten through eighth grade."

All 277 pieces of artwork will be displayed in the Irvington High School cafeteria on December 12 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. with the award presentation following at 4 p.m. in Valhalla Hall. For participants and family that want to see results before they hear, award levels will be indicated on the title card of the piece at the art exhibit, and Awards of Excellence will also be announced at the ceremony.

The Reflections Recognition Ceremony for those entries forwarded to the Peralta District will take place on January 19 at Kennedy High School. Students whose pieces are selected for the California State PTA will be announced at this time, the California State PTA then choosing the artwork to be delivered to the final stage, the National PTA. Up to 12 Awards of Excellence in each category will be awarded at the national level, students taking home a $200 cash award and silver-plated medallion. State level judging takes place in February and March with winners announced in early May, and national awards are determined by June 1st.

"Any opportunity to recognize children for expressing themselves in a creative, artistic manner is beneficial to our community as well as to the individual child," says Bruno. "I have seen the eyes of children light up as they see their artwork on display. They are proud of their work, and excited to share it with family and friends." The Reflections Program is a great opportunity to support the arts in our local schools, and to discover and foster the unique creativity of our children.

For more information on the Fremont Council PTA Reflections Program contact Becky Bruno at (510) 661-0117.

Fremont Council PTA Reflections Recognition Ceremony
Saturday, December 12
Art exhibit
3 p.m.-4 p.m.
Awards ceremony
4 p.m.-5 p.m.
Irvington High School
41800 Blacow Road, Fremont
(510) 661-0117

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