Reflections contest creates more than interest for Taylorsville students
Dec 11, 2019 03:02PM
By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
Last year’s, state award of Merit winning entry. Artist is Carter Proud from Calvin Smith Elementary. Of the 183 state winners, five awards were for students from Taylorsville. The 2018 theme was “Heroes Around Me.” (Photo courtesy of Rebekah Pitts, Utah PTA Reflections specialist.)
By Kathryn Elizabeth Jones|[email protected]
Hundreds of Taylorsville students took part in this year’s National PTA Reflection contest, a free contest for young artisans that began more than 50 years ago.
Started by Colorado State PTA President Mary Lou Anderson, Reflections has come a long way in new categories and opportunities for even the youngest of students since its inception in 1969. What remains is the heart and soul of the contest itself.
“Hundreds of volunteers across the state of Utah volunteer many thousands of hours each year to bring this program to the children of Utah,” said Reflections Specialist Rebekah Pitts.
“Look Within,” this year’s theme, gathered in six Taylorsville area schools. Three categories stood out as favorites: Literature, 2D Visual Arts and photography. For students, the benefits of participating far surpassed the initial thrill of creating something new.
“I would have done it even if it hadn’t been an assignment,” said Rebekah, fifth grade student at Fox Hills Elementary. “All of the kids [in my class] had to choose something to do. I’ve never done it before and I wanted to try it.”
Rebekah entered the 2D art category. She used glitter paint, color pencil, marker and pencil as her mediums to make her spirit deer. “The painting was the hardest part,” she said. “It was hard to get it even, and you had to glob a lot on.”
She enjoyed the “drawing” part the best. She wants to be an illustrator for her own books when she grows up.
“Reflections is the self-esteem boost the children feel when they participate,” Pitts said. “Every entry is celebrated.”
Reflections has grown to include students from all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. military school overseas. And that says a lot when you consider the contest began much smaller.
“There were three categories at the time: Literature, Music and Visual Arts, and 234 entries that first year,” said Pitts. “[Today] over 300,000 students participate nationwide. Each state is allowed to send 30 winners on to compete at the national level.”
Last year, nine national winners came from Utah. Between 10,000 and 13,000 entries are submitted each year according to utahpta.org. The competition is fierce. Still, students keep submitting.
“Creating art around a yearly theme gives the children a chance to reflect and create something original,” said Pitts, who believes every child should have an opportunity to share his/her work. “There is something for everyone.”
Though for several years Utah piloted two categories — theater and art — and while 3D art was chosen to be a part of the visual arts category, theater was not selected and has been discontinued, said Pitts.
There is always a process of re-evaluation, and from the very beginning, Reflections hasn’t been carved into stone. Scholarships were first given to national winners in 1984, and photography was added as a category in 1986. Kindergarteners were able to join Reflections in 1995, and film production and dance choreography were added as categories in 2005, said Pitts.
What does that mean for future entrants?
“The diversity of categories ensures that there is something for everyone,” said Pitts. “Many children who do not excel at sports find a place to shine in the Reflections program.”