“Meaningful art” reflects well on Gilbert Park Elementary students

Take a look and see how the ‘PTA Reflections Program’ hopes to change the way students look at the topic of diversity …

The winners and finalists in the 2012 PTA Reflections art competition at Gilbert Park Primary School stand proudly, after receiving certificates at the art show.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Before the monthly meeting of the Gilbert Park Primary School PTA got underway, a special art gallery reception and awards ceremony for the year’s “Reflections” program took place in the school’s gym, on January 10.

“It’s basically an art contest,” explained the program’s leader, Heidi Wilson. “The PTA Reflections program is open to any school that has a Parent-Teacher Association in good standing. This program is one of the largest student arts recognition programs in the country.”

Family and friends gather to admire the artwork posted for the show.

This is the second year that Gilbert Park has participated in the Reflections program, and the school is one of only a handful in the David Douglas School District to do so, Wilson remarked.

Nationally, the art program suggests six categories: Dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts (drawing, painting, print-making and collage) – and Oregon adds two more: Three-dimensional art, and theater arts. “Since this is a new program for the school, Gilbert Park has chosen to stick with Visual Arts only,” added Wilson.

Sandra Hernandez, Mark White, and John Chism prepare to judge the works of art submitted to the competition. Anthony Glenn photo

Behind it all, Wilson commented, is encouraging students to participate in the arts. “I’m involved because, when many arts programs are being cut from school, it’s important to encourage the kids to do art.”

The judges – Sandra Hernandez of The Tree Institute, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association President Mark White, and John Chism, from the City of Portland Department of Transportation Safe Routes to Schools program – found their work cut out for them, Wilson said.

Heidi Wilson, organizer of Gilbert Park’s Reflections program, welcomes family and guests to the art show.

“As you can see, we had many entries this year – 38 children participated. Many were so good; it was difficult for our judges to select the top entries.”

Each artwork was judged on a 40-point scale – with 20 points awarded for reflecting the “Diversity Means…” theme, 10 points for creativity, and 10 points for artistic ability.

Wilson called the gathering to order, explained the program to the guests, and invited the student participants to come up to the stage to receive their participation certificates and awards.

Haris Tahirovic proudly shows off his 1st Place Award in his category, kindergarten through second-graders. His artwork is to the left.

Fifth-grader Marquelle Nave is presented his 1st Place Award in her category – the upper grade levels at the school.

After being judged at the local level, said Wilson, winning entries advance to the council district, region, and/or state PTA levels. “Top state award-winning entries advance to the national level of judging.”

One look is all it takes to see how well this competition draws out talent in these young students.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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