Reflections Contest features student talent; Participants explain experiences


“Reflections is a National PTA arts recognition program that helps students explore their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence, and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful not only in school but in life. Students create original works of art in response to a theme,” states the coordinators of the Reflections contest. 

     The theme for this year’s program was “I matter because…” The available art categories are dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, visual arts, and special artist category. “While the primary focus of Reflections is a celebration of creativity through positive recognition, finalists from NHHS PTSA will move on to the HCCPTA level,” also mentions the coordinators. 

     “Contestants interpret the theme by writing, creating art, taking a photo, composing music, making a film, and/or choreographing a dance. There is a brief written portion wherein the contestant explains his interpretation of the theme. Special artists are welcome to participate and have their own set of guidelines. The contest is inclusive of all ages and abilities from PreK-12,” says Reflections Committee Chairperson, Kimberly Truxel. 

     Truxel explains that every participant is celebrated, there are “no wrong answers.” “At the local schools, students are honored in some way. Any entries that are considered at the county level are honored in a county-wide recognition ceremony AND the top entries, as chosen by judges, receive $50 Barnes and Noble gift cards,” states Truxel. 

     The judging of the contest is difficult according to Truxel, “art is impossible to judge, but the written statements of the artist, the uniqueness of the interpretation and the quality of the entry are heavily weighed.” Some students’ works have been featured at the Statue of Liberty! This contest gives students many opportunities to take pride in their work so that hopefully in the future as adults they can pursue it. 

     Sophomore Maggie Layman participated in this year’s contest, Layman has participated every year and looked forward to participating this year. She said that she was excited, but she did struggle at first, “the theme was more difficult this year than it has been in the past.” Layman explained saying she usually submitted drawings to the competition, but this year’s theme “limited her options,” so instead she submitted a poem. 

     Layman felt “satisfied” when seeing her final product, she ended up titling her poem “I Am Me”. She described that the writer’s block gave her some challenges, but she found help with her family. Layman received the Award of Merit when the contest concluded, meaning she was a runner up to the best pieces of that category. 

     Similar to Layman, Junior Grace Herron did the contest this year as she has done every single year since elementary school. Herron states that “it is a way to express my creativity, so I love participating in it.” Unlike Layman, Herron loved the theme. She explains that she loves writing “interpretive poems” and that the theme fits her very well. 

     Herron submitted a “poem called A Lost Dandelion Wish, which was a Shakespearean sonnet following iambic pentameter.” Herron had also received the Award of Merit, meaning she was also a runner-up. Herron says she might receive a certificate in the mail for her award. 

     Senior Elena Schell also participated in the contest every year since elementary school. Schell entered “an original song that (she) wrote called Daisy to Rose about the fact that kids in our generation are growing up way too fast.” Schell was excited and prepared for this theme, she states, “I was excited about the theme “I Matter Because” because it can pretty much be applied to anything.” 

     Schell had written her song quickly, but she says, “that’s how it goes with songwriting when you write about something, you’re actually passionate about.” Schell had won the “Outstanding Interpretation for Music Composition.”