Reflections – Another Way to Celebrate the A in STEAM

by California State PTA Arts Education Committee

An A in the classroom is still the best grade. And we know putting the A in STEM, making it STEAM, is the right decision for all students. When schools include the arts as an integral part of their curriculum, they encourage students to be creative and find innovative solutions to real-world problems. Students learn to not be afraid of a blank canvas as they discover the world and become the leaders of tomorrow. PTA is committed to arts education and continuing to support art programs that bring families and children together.

PTA Reflections Art Program Happening Now In California

One way PTA can prioritize art  for educators, families, and students is through the Reflections Arts Program. Reflections exemplifies PTAs long-standing commitment to arts education. The Reflections Program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts, which boosts students’ confidence and success in the arts and in life.

In schools throughout the country, local PTAs are promoting and celebrating PTA Reflections, collecting entries from students, and planning Reflections programs. Full information and “how-to”s for local leaders are available on the California State PTA Leaders Website. We look forward to the art that will be performed, photographed, and created from the 2022-2023 theme “Show Your Voice.” 

Seeing how students express themselves through art is not only inspiring: it’s a conversation starter that can draw attention to arts education. We see this with the Reflections program as California students participate year after year. Most recently, California brought home many awards for the 2021-2022 Reflections theme “I Will Change the World By…”

Student PTA Reflections Themes Submission Open Now

Each year, the Reflections theme is chosen from student submissions. Suggestions for the 2024-2025 Reflections theme are currently being accepted, and more information is available on the California State PTA website.  

Student-created themes follow a long tradition, as does the Reflections program as a whole. Reflections was founded by Mary Lou Anderson, a National PTA Board Member and former Colorado State PTA President. The first theme, in 1969, was “Children and Youth, Mirror their World…” The PTA Reflections Program has since grown to include thousands of participants each year. Students today compete in six arts categories, including dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. Entries are divided by grade level and there is a division for Special Artists with  learning differences.

PTA Arts Advocacy Continues With Support of Proposition 28

California State PTA has long encouraged its local leaders and members to work with their school districts to improve arts programs. We provide a wealth of information and resources to support that local advocacy. 

Our advocacy advice goes further this year. California State PTA is urging support of Proposition 28 on the November 8 state ballot. We are also encouraging our local PTAs to campaign for the measure in their communities. California State PTA has strongly and actively advocated for a full curriculum that includes the arts for more than three decades. Based on that history, a study of the measure, and the strength of relevant organizational authorities, our Board of Managers voted to support Proposition 28.

The passage of Proposition 28 is expected to generate more than $900 million a year in dedicated new funding for arts and music education for all public schools across California – without raising taxes. 

Keep the Conversation Going in Your Community

Generate excitement and bring PTA Reflections and other arts education programs to your schools and communities. We encourage PTAs in California to continue advocating for the arts through election day, throughout the school year and beyond.

Take a moment and share what art means to you, as well as what is happening at your school, by sending the California State PTA Arts Committee a note at 

Getting Inspired About Reflections

by Reflections Committee

Reflections Image

Want to be inspired? Just spend some time looking at the dance routines, films, visual artwork, written poems and stories, and photographs California students created as part of the 2020-21 PTA Reflections program.

Thousands of California students from kindergarten to high school participated in Reflections last year. In PTAs throughout the state, their work, based on the theme “I Matter Because…” was displayed and celebrated. 

I matter because I am me.
Standing tall fearlessly.
Knocking down boundaries.
Adding to the diversity.

From the poem “Equity, Equality, Discord and Disunity”
by National PTA Reflections Award of Excellence winner
Amira Olin, Walter Reed Middle School

In April, California State PTA announced which of those students won awards and would have their work forwarded to the National PTA competition. You’ll find their submissions
here. There were 13 California students honored in the national competition.


How do I sign my child up for the Reflections competition?

Reflections is a PTA program that local school PTA units sponsor. Ask your PTA leaders if your school has a program. If your PTA doesn’t currently do Reflections, you could be the one to get it started. This information for local leaders will give you the information (in English and Spanish). It’s a great way to get your school community involved with PTA and with the arts.

Where do I learn more about how Reflections works?

You’ll find everything you need in the Reflections Section of the CA State PTA website. A great place to start is with our description of how the program works and what it takes to make it work.

What is this year’s theme?

This year’s theme is “I Will Change the World By…” 

You’ll find a wealth of resources, including fliers and other promotional materials, to help you publicize your local Reflections program here.

Getting kids started on their projects, based on this year’s theme, is a great way to get them inspired as the new school year begins.

Interview with Danni Kim, National PTA Family Engagement Whole Child Fellow

Earlier this month National PTA announced the names of four Family Engagement Fellows from across the United States. California State PTA is proud to announce that Danni Kim from Franklin Magnet PTA in First District was selected for this prestigious program.

Our Vice President for Family Engagement, Heather Ippolito, sat down with Danni and asked her about the importance of family engagement, her favorite programs to connect families to campus, and for a sneak peek into what the Fellows will be doing. She described several amazing programs implemented at her school site this past year including “Culture of Kindness” and a virtual art assembly that focused on diversity.

Click below to watch the interview:

Additional resources:

To return to the blog homepage, click here.

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.

It is Reflections season!

It is currently Reflections season in our PTAs. As you encourage your artists to work on their submissions for “Look Within” keep these things in mind:

  1. If you have not already done so, please register your unit with National PTA. It’s a simple form to fill out just click here.
  2. Do some marketing for the program to keep it in the forefront of everyone’s mind. California State PTA has some printable resources for you to use.
  3. Begin to recruit judges to evaluate the student’s work. Local dance studios, community college professors, and high school English teachers are just a few ideas of places to contact for possible judges. In the local leader guide we have instructions for the judges as well as rubrics they can use as they evaluate.
  4. Celebrate every student artist with certificates, plaques, or awards. We have a celebration guide, certificate template, and volunteer thank you cards all ready for you to use!
  5. Pat yourself on the back for helping to keep the arts alive at your unit!