Reflections: Within Reach

Your dreams are always ‘within reach’

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Photo by Washington State PTA

Ben Lyons, Staff Writer

Every fall, Utah’s PTA congregates to organize the long-running Reflections contest, where students of all ages are given the opportunity to submit their creative works into a national competition.

Those who enter the contest are given a common theme to build off of, with this year’s theme being “Within Reach”. There are seven different categories one can submit: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, 2D, and 3D arts. Artists are judged in distinct age groups, and the best of these works will progress from the regional, to state, and finally to the national circuit. Entries that make it as far as the national circuit have within their reach scholarship opportunities and widespread recognition of their talent.

Susan Mccandless, a Bingham Language Arts and Creative Writing teacher, has made it a requirement for 12 years that her Creative Writing 2 students submit an entry into the Reflections contest. This year’s theme has been mainly interpreted by her class as “aspirational”, but many different avenues of interpretation are possible. She said that this year’s prompt, “Within Reach”, was significantly better than previous ones, which have been strange and made it hard to come up with ideas.

Jaime James, Bingham’s Drawing and Painting teacher, also interprets “Within Reach” to be about reaching goals, but fosters students who have a different medium to express that interpretation. “With two-dimensional art, you aren’t able to walk around the artwork, but it is often able to express things that words can’t; it speaks to your emotions.” James said, “In my class, I am trying to teach my students the elements and principles of design, so they can better depict what they want in their art.”

In honor of all those who participated in the Reflections contest, participants and their parents were invited to a luncheon/award ceremony where they found out if their works would be progressing onwards. Kaylan Christensen, a Bingham Senior, entered pieces in all seven categories and will have six progressing in the competition. All students who entered were pinned by Principal Richards-Khong.

The contest was organized this year by Melanie Jones, who wants to be an agent of student artist recognition. Jones said, “Sometimes [the students who enter Reflections] are the students that are under-represented in receiving attention and awards, so I really like the idea of showing off these students’ talent.” Jones feels as though there is much less attention put on the contest in high schools as opposed to elementary schools and more effort needs to be taken to promote the contest, especially by the teachers, as “they are the ones that make the difference”.

This year’s contest has passed but it’s not too early to start preparing for next year’s theme, “Heroes Around Me”.