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Holladay Journal

Holladay students and PTA celebrate 50 years of Reflections contest

Jan 07, 2019 04:56PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Students from Oakwood Elementary who won Reflections Awards of Excellence will progress to the region level. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | heather.lawrence@mycityjournals.com

This year’s PTA-sponsored Reflections contest marked a big milestone: it turned 50. The theme for 2018–19 was “Heroes Around Me,” and entries were accepted in several arts categories: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, Visual Arts 2D and Visual Arts 3D. 

Annie Jarman is in her second year as council chair for Cottonwood Council, which includes Oakwood Elementary. She explained that the entries start at the school level, and winners progress on to council, region (school district), state and eventually the National PTA contest level. 

Jarman is a firm believer in the program. “I grew up dancing and writing and I did photography for a while. (The arts) is something that speaks to my soul. I know how important it is for our brains, for our happiness, for our well-being and self-expression,” Jarman said. 

All of the work done by the PTA for Reflections is on a volunteer basis. Part of the reason Jarman volunteered was to make sure her kids had the experience. “My kids love it. They have both participated and they love art, so it’s just a natural fit for me to participate in this part of PTA,” said Jarman. 

The Cottonwood Council had around 90 winning entries come in, and Jarman was impressed with the efforts of each one. “It’s so fun to see what the kids turn in. It’s a great project and the women and men who chair it on the local level — they are heroes! It is a tough, tough job, and they do it with dedication and love for the arts and the students,” Jarman said. 

One of the winners from Oakwood Elementary was second-grader Chloe Cederholm. She and other elementary-level students were honored on Dec.1 at a program held at Whitmore Library. Each student who progressed through the council level received an Award of Excellence medallion. 

Chloe’s family came to watch her receive her medallion and be recognized for her 3D art submission, a sculpture of her hands holding a mask with “hero” words printed on it. 

“We bought a clay kit and I stuck my hands into it and held them in for two minutes. Then when I took them out, (my mom and I) peeled away some of the clay and it was a sculpture of my hands. We bought a mask and we wrote down some things that an everyday hero does,” said Chloe.

Chloe read off some of her favorite words from the mask: helpful, protector, says hi, thoughtful, friendly. “It looks like the person is trying to put on the mask, so it’s like you can wear these (qualities) every day. I was hoping I would win, and I felt good when I found out that I had,” Chloe said.

Other schools in Holladay are covered by the Olympus Council, which is chaired by Camille Larsen. 

“The Olympus Council covers all the schools that feed into, and including, Olympus High. I started as a local chair at Cottonwood Elementary, and then someone nominated me to be the Olympus Council Chair,” Larsen said. 

To promote fairness, the contest is regulated by specific rules, which can be found on www.utahpta.org/reflections. Judging is done at each level, and judges can’t be a parent or grandparent of any of the entrants. 

Each student is asked to write an Artist Statement to describe how their work fits with the theme. “People don’t realize how important the Artist Statement is. The judges are given a rubric to use and are told that the Artist Statement is worth half of the score; there are 40 points possible, and it’s worth 20,” said Larsen. 

“I love reading the Artist Statements. It encourages students with less artistic backgrounds to enter because they can explain what was going on in their minds and what they were trying to portray,” Larsen said. 

Based on the points awarded by the judges, she was able to let eight winners from every category move on to the Granite District/Region 5 level. 

Most school PTAs work Reflections awards into their budgets, but Larsen said the Olympus Council also has sponsors in Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center. 

“Menchie’s contacts me each year and gives us free gift certificates for everyone who enters. Cottonwood Heights Rec Center gave us two-for-one ice skating coupons. They are really wonderful to support the students,” Larsen said. 

Granite’s awards night for those who will be moving on to the state level is Jan. 17, and that’s where Michelle Madsen comes in. Madsen started much the same as Larsen and Jarman, and worked up to the region chair position. 

“For me, when the art comes through the door that’s my favorite part. I like Reflections because it’s open to everyone. Everyone has an equal chance to express themselves and find the art within them. When kids enter every year, their work gets better and better,” Madsen said. 

Madsen volunteers because she believes the program makes a difference in the lives of the students. “What I like the most is seeing how the kids creatively express themselves through art. It helps them to think about life differently and their feelings differently. Maybe they even see their situation and other people around them differently,” Madsen said.

Madsen appreciated the addition of the Special Artist category a few years ago. “Special Artists is for any child with special needs. We get quite a few entries, and I like to see that. Reflections really is for everybody. Every age level and ability level. It’s a program that does it all,” said Madsen.

With next year’s theme of “Look Within” already selected, the scores of PTA volunteers across the valley hope that the next 50 years of Reflections are even better than the last.