Recently, Evergreen Elementary School displayed its annual PTA “Reflections” program’s show of student-created artwork.

Evergreen Elementary School third grader Jaycie Grisso proudly shows her prize-winning photograph and the finalist certificate it won in the school’s annual Reflections program. It will be entered in the state level competitions. Photo courtesy Seana Lutz

“The program generates excitement and enthusiasm for art in children, parents, schools and communities,” said Evergreen’s PTA member Seana Lutz. “At our school, the AFTER ‘OURS program, along with Communities In Schools-Peninsula, sponsored a Reflections class taught by music teacher Teri Hammon, as part of the lineup of enrichment classes offered on Thursday afternoons. Many kids chose to take this class and were able to explore, express and create. The majority of our entries for a chance at state competitions came as a result of that class.”

The National PTA Reflections Program is an arts recognition and achievement program that provides opportunities for students to express themselves creatively and to receive positive recognition for original works of art inspired by a theme, while increasing community awareness on the importance of the arts in education. It was established in 1969 by National PTA board member Mary Lou Anderson. Since that time, more than 10 million students have participated in the program.

Evergreen fourth grader Megan Ross, whose work earned a finalist award and will be entered at the state level competitions, said, “I’m glad we have Reflections, it’s not like other AFTER ‘OURS programs where the adults do more. This is more hands-on and is more our own creation. I came up with the idea of my drawing because I love to read, which sparked the idea of my imagination. That’s why my picture includes both the library and me sitting reading a book and you can see how my imagination is growing.”

Nineteen young Evergreen artists submitted over 30 works of art. Of those, judges chose four finalists who will go on to competition May 7 at the state PTA convention. Other finalists were second grader Thomas Lancaster for visual arts, third grader Jaycie Grisso for photography, and fourth grader Christina Peer for visual arts.

Jaycie’s mom, Heidi Grisso, said she “took Jaycie to Penrose Point State Park, handed her a camera and told her to ‘go for it.’” She was amazed at what her daughter came up with.

Reflections is a unique program that not only offers a chance for kids to be creative and think outside the box, but to get positive recognition for their work. It is a valuable learning process that challenges students to use their critical thinking skills as well as their creative talents.

Said Lutz, “I saw such a look of pride on the faces of these kids as they were pointing out their art to friends and family. And so many of the adults were just amazed at what imagination and creativity were displayed. This program offers kids a chance to express their individuality. Kids in schools all across the state and throughout the country are participating in this program with the same rules and the same theme, but no two pieces of art will be the same. That is a powerful thing. Kids can and do amazing things if given the chance, and this program provides that opportunity.”

At Evergreen, the PTA hosts a Movie Night in the gym once a month. Families are invited to bring pillows and blankets and enjoy a movie, popcorn, and soft drinks free of charge. Many families stayed after the Reflections art show for Disney’s “Cars,” an animated bit of clean frivolity.

But the high point of the evening was the incredible creativity of the kids — at all grade levels.

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