In This Section

Notes from the Backpack Podcast

Reflections Arts Program

National PTA Reflections Awards

Each year, students in Pre-K through Grade 12 are invited to create and submit original works of art in the areas of Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts.

Based on State PTA rules and guidelines, these works of art may be submitted for state and national level awards and recognition opportunities.

Of the national-level submissions, over 200 student Reflections participants will receive the following awards from National PTA:

  • Merit Award: Bronze Medal; Certificate of Merit; Work featured in the traveling exhibition
  • Award of Excellence: $200 Young Artist Scholarship; Silver Medal; Certificate of Excellence; Work featured in the traveling exhibition
  • Outstanding Interpretation Award: $800 Young Artist Scholarship; Gold Medal; Certificate of Outstanding Interpretation; Work featured in the traveling exhibition; $200 Prize for Local PTA Unit

Arts Categories

Dance Choreography

Dance Choreography


Film Production




Music Composition



Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 Look Within Reflections Winners

Congratulations to the following 2019-2020 Reflections winners on their national achievements in the arts! Stay tuned as National PTA plans to curate artwork for the traveling exhibit this fall to be showcased in January 2021 at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC and June 2021 at National PTA's Convention & Expo in Grapevine, TX.

2019-2020 Outstanding Interpretation Winners

Congratulations to the National winners from the 2019-2020 Look Within Reflections program. Share your celebrations with this press release and blog post using #PTAReflections. 

Check out the virtual exhibit showcasing the National Reflections awardees for the 2019-2020 Reflections year, Look Within. 

Take a look at our National Reflections Outstanding Interpretation awardees for the 2019-2020 Reflections year, Look Within. 

Selection Criteria

Student entries submitted to the national level go through two rounds of review by esteemed arts professionals across the country. During the evaluation process, judges will consider the following criteria:

  1. Interpretation: How closely the piece relates to the theme, based on the work itself and the artist statement. 
  2. Creativity: How creative and original the piece is in its conception of the theme and its presentation. 
  3. Technique: The level of skill demonstrated in the basic principles/techniques of the arts area.

Judges strongly consider the interpretation of the Reflections theme during the evaluation process. It is suggested that students give their submissions a title that stands out and describes how the piece relates to the student’s personal interpretation of the theme. The following guiding questions can be useful when developing a title and artist statement: 

  • How does your work relate to the theme?
  • What is your personal connection to the theme?
  • What did you use to create your work (e.g., supplies, technology, instrumentation, props, etc.)?
  • What/who was your inspiration?

Annual Theme Search Contest

Students can participate in the annual Theme Search Contest according to their State PTA Reflections Program guidelines. Every year, one winning student's theme is selected by a team of National PTA volunteers. The winning student is awarded $100, national recognition and the honor of inspiring hundreds of thousands of artists across the nation as they participate in the Reflections program. Check out the winning themes from the past 50+ years here.

Thanks to Rylee Stier, from Burney Elementary School PTA in Burney, California. The 2020-2021 Reflections theme will be I Matter Because...

And congratulations to the winner of the 2021-2022 annual Theme Search Contest, Lydia Keel, from Spanish Fork Junior High School PTSA in Utah. Thanks to Lydia's submission, the 2021-2022 Reflections theme will be I Will Change the World By...

Visit your State PTA Reflections Program for see if your state is participating.

Annual Mary Lou Anderson ArtsEd Grant   

Congratulations to the 2019 Mary Lou Anderson Reflections Arts Enhancement Grantees:

  • Anderson Mill Elementary PTA in Texas
  • Reese Road PTA in Georgia

To learn more about this opportunity, visit our ArtsEd Resources.

Encourage and celebrate student participation in arts education.

Register by Feb. 1, 2020 and find tools to run your Local PTA's Reflections program.

Apply for a grant and use our toolkit to advocate for arts education.