National PTA Reflections Results for 2020-21

By the Reflections Committee

A total of 13 students from California received recognition for their creative accomplishments from the National PTA Reflections program. You can see a list of all the 2020-21 California Reflections awards here.

National PTA Reflections – Outstanding Interpretation
Mark Wagner
Dance Choreography – Special Artist Division
Dana Hills High School, Fourth District PTA
“I Speak With My Dancing”

Artist Statement: I matter because I am different. I speak with my dancing.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Hailey Johnston
Film Production – Middle School Division
Nick G. Parras Middle School, Thirty-Third District PTA
“I Matter Because I’m Me”

Artist Statement: I Matter Because is a question you ask yourself all the time but you don’t have to have a reason. You matter because you are you and THAT is what matters.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Gabriela Korszyk
Film Production – Special Artist Division
Covina High School, First District PTA
“Meant to Be”

Artist Statement: I matter because I am worth it. God doesn’t make mistakes. I am handicapped but I’m surrounded by loving people and I’m grateful for it. I’m meant to be.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Eva Whittemore
Literature – Primary Division
Dixie Canyon Elementary School, Thirty-First District PTA
“Things My Teacher Should Tell Herself”

Artist Statement: Everybody knows that teachers matter, but teachers may not know how much they matter. I named my poem “Things My Teacher Should Tell Herself” because it’s hard to do school over zoom and some of the work is hard to do alone. My teacher should tell herself that she’s doing her best.








National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Amira Olin
Literature – Middle School Division
Walter Reed Middle School, Thirty-First District PTA
“Equity, Equality, Discord and Disunity”

Artist Statement: This poem expresses the importance of not allowing race, color, image, gender and other differences separate or hinder us individually and as a group. It urges us to speak up and standup for what is right or what we believe in. We should all strive for equality, inclusivity and equity for a better society because we are all of one world. I matter because I represent society in a world full of disparity. I matter because I exist. I matter because we matter!








National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Lukas Shen
Photography – Middle School Division
Foothills Middle School, First District PTA
“Mitakuye Oyasin”

Artist Statement: Mitakuye Oyasin is a phrase from the Lakota language that my dad introduced me to. It means “we are all related”. I was looking through a photography magazine, and I saw a picture of a Native American with war paint. I created a graphic of different colored lines, each representing a different ethnicity. With a black background behind me, I projected the graphic on my face and used a remote to take this self portrait. We’re all related because all ethnicities make up the human race.


National PTA Reflections – Award of Excellence
Kotaro Fujita
Photography – Special Artist Division
South High School, Thirty-Third District PTA
“Because I am a Japanese American”

Artist Statement: This family photo of my parents, sister and my hand. My parents came from Japan 30 years ago. I was born in the United States. I love both America and Japan. I want to be a bridge between the two Countries.






National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Islelamia Bruner
Dance Choreography – Middle School Division
Mountainview Elementary School, Thirty-Fourth District PTA

Artist Statement: I Matter Because this year has been a struggle for my culture. The Hate that we are given, has torn me apart. I just want this dance to let people know that we won’t go silent until our voices are heard. Let this dance give a message of where we have come from and we have always stood for Freedom. All lives do matter, but we are not added to that equation all the time. We won’t go silent.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Alice Finkelstein
Dance Choreography – High School Division
Carlmont High School, Seventeenth District PTA
“United Existence”

Artist Statement: In this piece, I express my place in this world and how I come to realize that I matter. At first, I do not understand the role that I have, but then suddenly, I become aware that everyone in this world is interconnected: we rely on each other for help and support, and everyone is capable of making others feel loved, appreciated, and significant. This is the manifestation of why I matter, and why everyone else in this world does. I matter because I have the power to make others matter. Together, we have the power to transform our world.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Namya Jha
Film Production – Primary Division
Foster City Elementary School, Seventeenth District PTA

Artist Statement: I made this movie based on the topic – “I matter because……”. It was such a fun to do it with my family (my Mom and Dad gave the voices for Mumma and Daddy Dogs 😀 ). It was pretty hard work to write story, script, dialogues and finally recording, editing, setting up background music and images but I enjoyed it a a lot.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Alexandra (Jordan) Schneider
Film Production – High School Division
Laguna Beach High School, Fourth District PTA
“Each Player Matters”

Artist Statement: The year 2020 has presented many adversities and tremendous amounts of change. My work presents that each player matters within a team. I chose to display my teammates to show that their actions impact the team significantly. Hence, their efforts have affected me for the better, helping me stay motivated despite the changes.

National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Sivaluxmy Sivalogeswaran
Music Composition – Primary Division
Northwood Elementary School, Sixth District PTA
“You know that I matter for everything”

Artist Statement: This year, the number of natural disasters has increased in the US. I live in San Jose, California. I experienced earthquake, wild fire, air pollution, and global warming. I am not able leave my house because of Covid-19 and smoke from the wildfire. But, staying inside my house is also not safe when there is an earthquake. I am a little girl I have lots of dreams. When I grow up I will invent new technologies to solve all these problems to make this world a safe place for all. Therefore, I matter to this world now more than ever.







National PTA Reflections – Award of Merit
Ellie Lam
Music Composition – Intermediate Division
Longden Avenue Elementary School, First District PTA
“A Ripple of Kindness”

Artist Statement: I matter because I make a difference to the world by smiling, caring for others, and showing them kindness. This is especially important during the pandemic, where a lot of people are losing their jobs and loved ones. Smiling, caring for others, and showing kindness can make a person feel better about themselves throughout the day. By showing others you care, that person will in return pay it forward to others, creating a ripple effect and making the world better. I wrote this song to dedicate it to those who lost their jobs and loved ones.

Federal Legislative Highlights by Derby Pattengill


National PTA has taken a positions on a number of bills currently being debated in the 116th Congress. Click here for the complete list. Some notable bills include:

HR5 Equality Act (SUPPORT)
This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

HR 2021 Investing For The People Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill increases discretionary spending limits, modifies the procedures for enforcing the limits and establishes budget enforcement procedures in the House of Representatives for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill increases both the defense and nondefense discretionary spending limits for FY2020 and FY2021. It also modifies the procedures for enforcing the spending limits to limit adjustments for funding designated for Overseas Contingency Operations/ Global War on Terrorism, allow specified adjustments for Internal Revenue Service enforcement activities and the 2020 Census and modify the sequestration process.

HR8 Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill, along with a similar Senate bill (S42), seek to close a loophole in the background check process. This bill has already passed the House.

California State PTA

California State PTA has also taken positions on some federal legislation this term. Click here for the complete list.Some highlights include:

HR 330 The Climate Solutions Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill encourages strong renewable energy standards by requiring that 100 percent of electricity sold in the United States be generated from renewable sources by 2035. It will also aggressively target greenhouse gases by requiring such emissions to be 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. It also creates a national energy efficiency standard. Rep. Lieu has long been active in fighting climate change, having introduced versions of the Climate Solutions Act in both the 114th and 115th Congress.

HR 1395 Youth Mental Health Services Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve mental health services for students. Specifically, it identifies and disseminates best practices for mental health first aid, assists in the establishment and implementation of emergency planning and establishes or identifies agreements with local agencies to improve coordination of services.


On March 12-14, 14 PTA leaders from California attended the 2019 National PTA Leg. Con. We had a total of 12 meetings at the capitol, including the offices of both of our senators as well as the Department of Education. It is a great experience advocating in Washington DC. Please consider attending the conference next year. Our asks at the meetings included:

  • Pass the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (HR 865/S.266). These bills seek to include public schools in any infrastructure package. Infrastructure is a bi-partisan issue with it being a priority for both the Speaker of the House as well as the President.
  • Oppose S.634 (Cruz) and similar Congressional bills. This bill provides tax credits for school choice. The Parent Teacher Association advocates for the improvement of public education for all children and to guarantee public funds are not diverted to any private school choice proposal and/or voucher system. PTA also opposes tax credits and deductions for elementary and secondary school tuition and other education-related expenses for public and nonpublic school students.

Our association believes that private school choice systems have detrimental effects on our public school systems. Public dollars must remain invested in public schools for the benefit of all students and the future of our nation.

  • Fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When Congress originally passed IDEA, they promised to cover 40% of the extra cost of special education. In other words, they would pay for nearly half of the additional cost required to educate students with disabilities (when compared to the cost per student without disabilities). Unfortunately, Congress has never come close to fulfilling that promise. The number of students with disabilities served under IDEA has increased by 25 percent in the past two decades. Yet, the IDEA state grant program is currently only funded at around $13 billion. The federal government is only covering 14.6% of the additional cost.

Support HR. 330(Lieu) The Climate Solutions Act of 2019.  The California State  PTA recently took a support position on this bill that seeks to move toward 100% renewable energy sources and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years.


Learn more about California State PTA’s advocacy efforts and how we take positions on legislation at

Questions? If you have any federal legislation or federal advocacy questions, please do not hesitate to contact California State PTA Legislative Advocate Derby Pattengill at