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Holladay Journal

Olympus Jr. High Reflections winners answer the question: ‘I Matter Because…’

Mar 22, 2021 04:12PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Eighth-grader London Nielsen is happy to have captured a spontaneous moment with her friends in acrylics—a painting which won at the region level in Reflections. (Photo courtesy Amy Nielsen)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Four Olympus Jr. High students are region Reflections winners for 2020-21: London Nielsen, eighth grade, 2D Art; Thomas Crump, seventh grade, 2D Art; Elise Kimble, sixth grade, 3D Art and William Taggart, sixth grade, Music Composition. This year’s theme was “I Matter Because….”

William submitted an original piano composition for the competition. “I’ve been playing the piano since I was 4, and I composed a piece of music for my entry. I had to submit both sheet music and a recording. It’s called, ‘Music Matters,’” William said. 

A big component of the judging is the artist’s personal statement, especially as it relates to the theme. William described his song as something that started out simple, but got more complex as the song went on. 

“That’s how people can be at first, but as time goes on they become more complex and your relationships can become more complex. I enter Reflections every year, and once I won at district, but this is the first time I’ve won at region,” William said. 

William’s dad Mark was proud of his son’s accomplishment. He was excited—but not really surprised—that the composition advanced to the state level.  

“My kids like entering Reflections every year. We have some artists and musicians in the family, and all our kids enjoy having a project to work on. William has always been good at practicing the piano and writing music,” Mark Taggart said. 

Fellow sixth-grader Elise Kimble created a 3D sculpture for her entry. She used every day, recyclable objects to create what she titled “Beauty in the Ordinary.” This is the first time she’s advanced to the state level. 

“I enter Reflections every year. For my entry I used stuff that most people think is junk— cardboard, newspaper and soda cans. I used hot glue and used the objects to create a tree. 

“I matter because I find beauty in ordinary things every day. I find beauty where other people don’t. I like to share that—it’s important to look for beauty everywhere, and if you look for it you’ll find it,” Elise said. 

Seventh-grader Thomas Crump and eighth-grader London Nielsen entered the 2D art category. Both students take art classes at school and also from the same private studio in the area. 

Thomas’s colored pencil entry is called “Lifting One Another.” Thomas said he was excited and surprised to find out that he’d won—he entered last year, but didn’t make it this far in the competition. 

“I was inspired to do this picture by the Utah landscape with the red rocks. I love to hike with my friends and family in southern Utah. This picture shows that when we help others through difficult moments in life, we ascend together. 

“I chose to color this picture with the colors of the sunrise, showing the brightness in the world when we work together rather than against each other,” Thomas said. 

Thomas credits his art teachers Miss Sheryl from his days at Cottonwood Elementary and private instructor Sydney Bowman with helping him learn the techniques to complete high quality work. 

London is also a student of Bowman’s. The art skills she learned helped her create a painting with acrylics out of a spontaneous moment with friends.   

“I’ve made a lot of new friends this year, and I know they care about me and I care about them. We were together, this huge group of girls, and we just all put our feet in and took a picture. 

“When I heard the Reflections theme for the year, I thought of this picture and I knew—this is it, this is how I feel. I’m so happy, and I know I matter to my friends,” London said. 

Usually Granite School District holds awards nights to recognize Reflections winners, but they had to get creative this year during COVID restrictions. William’s dad was impressed with how hard the district worked to show their support. 

“The district had a drive-thru awards ceremony in January at the district office. It was fun and really well organized. They had a slide show going and gave out trophies to kids. It was a more limited celebration than normal, but they were still recognized.

“Granite District was great. My other kids go to Cottonwood Elementary and the principal there was really great, too. We’re lucky to live in such a supportive school district,” Taggart said.  

Winners at the state level will be informed in late spring. Entries that advance to the national level could take up to a year to hear back. Reflections is an annual PTA-sponsored arts contest, and is open to all students at schools with a PTA.