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Reflections Arts Program

Reflections Timeline



  • Program founded by Mary Lou Anderson, National PTA Board Member and former Colorado PTA President
  • View Mary Lou Anderson's cultural arts essay
  • “Without the Arts, education is paltry indeed!” - Mary Lou Anderson
  • Originally included Literature, Visual Arts and Music Composition categories
  • First Reflections theme in 1969: Children and Youth, Mirror their World

Mary Lou Anderson

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  • 1970-1971 theme: Reflections: Children and Youth Look to Tomorrow


  • The Reflections program's success is reported at Convention in Oklahoma City. According to one Chairman, "it is amazing how much pride children gain from this program."


National Scholarship Winners

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  • Mary Lou Anderson starts giving scholarships to National winners
  • Traveling Exhibit introduced, sponsored by Allied Van Lines


  • With photography now more affordable to the general public, National PTA added the medium as a fourth Reflections category


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  • Reflections turns 25 with 700,000 student entries from 53 congresses based on the theme "Dare to Discover"


  • Kindergartners invited to participate
  • “It warms my heart to see a child excel in something like this [Reflections Program], especially when they don't always succeed in their regular school work.” – Anna from Louisiana


  • “When you’re recognized for your artistic ability as a child, it gives you more confidence to pursue it as an adult.” – April Maddox, 1998 Reflections participant from Virginia

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  • 2000-2001 theme: It Would be Really Strange If…


  • “When I participated in the Reflections program, it fed creativity. It made me feel like the arts were an integral part of what we did at school. It reinforced both my identity as a creative person and my value as a creative person. The Reflections program opened the door to pursue music as I got older.” – Anabel Martinez-Pauline, Reflections participant from California


  • Film Production and Dance Choreography categories introduced

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  • 2010-2011 theme: Together We Can…


  • The Accessible Arts division (formerly Special Artist) was added to provide accommodations for students who identify as having a disability.
  • "I never imagined the terrific, positive affect this contest would have on our family. I am writing this because I want you to know that this program truly makes an impact in others’ lives. I know it did for us. It came at a time when it was so important for not only my son, but our whole family to have something happy to talk about. It turned a difficult topic into something positive that he could share with others. Best of all, he learned that not only could he share his feelings about something difficult, but he could be rewarded for it!" – Joy Blackburn, mother of a Jack Williams, division winner from Colorado
  • #PTAReflections hashtag launch on social media and started a global, ongoing conversation about the importance of the arts





Reflections 50th Anniversary


Reflections 50th at Convention


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  • 2020-2021 theme: I Matter Because… 
  • “I believe the arts in school is so important especially for those who are creatives. With so much push for STEM in school (which is great for the minds who naturally gravitate that way) we can’t forget about the kids whose brains see things from a different perspective” – Carnelian PTA, California


  • 2021-2022 Theme: I Will Change the World By... The 2021-2022 Reflections theme was submitted by Lydia Keel from Spanish Fork Junior High School PTSA in Utah.
  • “Our students have loved the Reflections program for the past several years. They enjoy working on something that is outside of our normal regular academics and focusing on the Arts. It celebrates another aspect of our students’ educational background and strengths.”  –Bernice Young Elementary, Arkansas 


  • 2022-2023 Theme: Show Your Voice! Thanks to Jason Yevin, from Salk/Macarthur PTSA in New York who submitted the 2022-2023 Reflections theme.
  • “I love how Reflections not only gives students an opportunity to be creative and use their creativity to express themselves, but it also provides an excellent opportunity for all viewers to experience diversity through the eyes of children. Each piece of art allows others to see how different it is, yet they all mean the same thing, Show Your Voice.”   –Wanda Gray Elementary PTA, Missouri


  • 2023-2024 Theme: I Am Hopeful Because...Thanks to Alice Meko from Hampton Cove Elementary PTA in Alabama who submitted the 2023-2024 Reflections theme.
  • "I love this program, and I think it's a great opportunity for students to showcase their work. I have participated the past two years, and it has been an amazing experience. Writing poetry is one of my main emotional outlets, and to be able to share my poems with a community has been monumental. I am participating in the Reflections program this year not only because it's an incredible experience, but also because I want to support this program so that it continues helping other students in the future realize how special their work is." Lauren Lee, Reflections participant (CA)


  • 2024-2025 Theme: Accepting Imperfection. Paige Opaska from Barbara Bush Middle School PTA in Texas submitted the theme that will inspire students in the 2024-2025 Reflections program.
  • Accessible Arts debuted as the replacement title for the Reflections Special Artist division. This change is in response to concern around the former title and recognizes the importance of evolving how we talk about disability to align with and be more inclusive of people with disabilities.  
2020-2021 Virtual Exhibit

I Matter Because...

2021-2022 Virtual Exhibit

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2022-2023 Virtual Exhibit


2023-2024 Reflections Poster

I Am Hopeful Because...

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Contact your State PTA Reflections Program, your State PTA or email info@PTA.org.

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