U.S. Department of Education Ceremony Honors Reflections Winners

Reflections_Exhibit_ArtistsImage above: 2011-2012 Reflections award winners visit the U.S. Dept of Education.

Yesterday, a troupe of 2011-2012 PTA Reflections winners visited the U.S. Department of Education for an exhibit and ceremony. Audience members, comprised of Reflections families and arts education advocates and leaders from around the country, were treated to student performances by Polly Moser (Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA, Ellicott, MD)  in musical composition, and Racquel Charles, accompanied by Tija Passley (Sequoyah High PTSA, Canton, GA) in dance choreography.

Reflections winners had the opportunity to meet with and hear from Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education; Jonathan Katz, Chief Executive Officer, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; Betsy Landers, President, National PTA; and Cindy Dearing, Chairperson, National PTA Reflections Committee.

Prior to the ceremony, we asked Reflections winners to share with us their thoughts on arts in education — from their mentors and inspirations to the role the arts play in their everyday life and future goals.

The following is a sampling of their responses:

Q. Who is your favorite author/artist/musician/etc?

My favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh because I love his use of color. He painted common things in such a unique way.
– Emma Mykowski, Brooklawn Middle School PTSA, New Jeresy

My favorite dancer and inspiration for my dance is my aunt, a classical Indian dancer who lives in India.
– Smrithi Suresh, Millikin Basics + Elementary School PTA, California

Author- Tim Carvell, he wrote my favorite book. Musicians- Aquabats, I like the fast beat and the  funny words.
– Keawe Oliveira, Alta View Elementary PTA, Utah      

Q. What inspires you to write/paint/compose/etc?

A person can express feelings through a photograph. I use this skill to motivate others to understand other people.
– Andrew Reardon, Liberty Middle School, Missouri

My mom is the one who has inspired me to push my artistic limits and taught me the importance of art.
– Davin Jimeno, Hollis-Brookline Middle School PTSA , New Hampshire

The past is my one and only inspiration; to hear those beautiful sounds emanating from an instrument tens of thousands of years after it is composed is truly thought-provoking. I can gain inspiration to compose when I myself play pieces that strike me as beautiful. When I hear the sounds overflowing from the keys, the same notes that were played for kings and queens, the same notes that brought audiences to their feet, cheering “Encore!”, the same notes that inspired rebellion, I wish no more than to someday compose a piece that will inspire another student just like me.
-Polly Moser, Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA, Maryland

Q. Do you have any mentors or teachers who have inspired you to participate in Reflections?

 My art teacher is awesome — she always asks us to try to do different things.  I also go to a lot of museums and like to imagine that my art might be in a museum.
– Patrick Mannion, New Boston Central School, New Hampshire

My great grandfather handed me my first guitar when I was six.  He knew that I could be a musician.   I have now  taken guitar and voice lessons since first grade.  These teachers have inspired me to work hard, learn as much as possible about the guitar and singing,  to perform in front of as many people as possible, and to write my own music.   The Reflections program let me use all the skills I have learned.
– Jayden Mendez, Central Middle School PTA, Van Buren School District, Arkansas

Collectively,  my teachers, friends and parents inspired me to participate in Reflections program. My mother is my mentor and has always been supportive. She believes in me and encourages me to challenge myself.
– Sydney Warren, Alabama PTA, Alabama

 Q. Do you plan to continue creating artwork as a hobby/career?

Yes as a hobby.  I also hope to be a chocolatier and make art into my chocolate.
– Charlie Hough, Wheeler Elementary PTA, Nebraska

 I like to play the trombone, make films and create artwork.  Of course, I like to play with Legos and videogames, too.  My mom always says I’ll end up doing something in the arts.  Maybe I’ll be a video game designer and use my music and art skills to do that.
– Patrick Mannion, New Boston Central School, New Hampshire

 Q. What skill have you developed from Reflections and how does Reflections encourage you to explore these skills?

I’ve gained confidence, experience, and, most of all, my ability to create the wonderful sound of a watercolor painting on the piano.
– Ainsley Susannah Hoh, Shirley Mann Elementary PTA, Kentucky

Entering Reflections has helped me explore film and animation and has encouraged me to learn more about the process.
– Griffin Keeter, Belinder Elementary, Kansas

Reflections has made me think more, made me branch out into other areas of talents that I really haven’t considered before. Music, as I have said before was definitely something I take pride in, but composing was a different matter. With the abounding support from my family, friends, and teachers, I finally made the decision to enter in the composition section of the contest. Reflections has also taught me persistence and patience. Throughout composing “The Flow of Water”, I constantly felt discouraged and impatient to finish. However, I learned that composing, like everything else in the world, had a gradual process, and that I must persevere despite everything to succeed.
-Polly Moser, Burleigh Manor Middle School PTA, Maryland

Q. What advice do you have for other students who participate in the Reflections program?

Try, Try and Try Again even if you feel like giving up and you can surely find out that you have the talent!
– Smrithi Suresh, Millikin Basics + Elementary School PTA, California

 Do not let any fear, or uncertainty keep you from participating, this is a great opportunity and a wonderful growing experience. You’ll be surprise of what you are capable of doing.
– Racquel Charles, Sequoyah High PTSA, Georgia

It is very important that you  stand behind your work. Don’t be afraid to be open and honest in your interpretation of your work.
– Sydney Warren, Alabama PTA, Alabama

Q. What advice do you have for others who enjoy writing but want to get better?

Never give up; just keep trying.  You can do anything you want in life if you just set your mind to it.
– Ainsley Susannah Hoh, Shirley Mann Elementary PTA, Kentucky

Be happy, because when people are happy, they are more productive and make better things.
– Andrew Liu, Bentwood Elementary PTA, Kansas

Stayed tuned to One Voice blog for more on Reflections and our talented student artists!


  1. Fritz Hager says:

    When will the national winners for the 2012-13 Reflections contest be announced? Our state leaders said sometime in May but I was looking for something more specific. Thanks.

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