Reflections

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Reflections Arts Program

Explore the Arts and Express Yourself

National PTA has a long-standing commitment to arts education. The Reflections program provides opportunities for recognition and access to the arts which boost student confidence and success in the arts and in life.

Each year, over 300,000 students in Pre-K through Grade 12 create original works of art in response to a student-created theme. This 50+ year-old program helps them explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.

The 2024-2025 Reflections theme: Accepting Imperfection


Special thanks and congratulations to Paige Opaska from Barbara Bush Middle School PTA in Texas who created this year's Reflections theme "Accepting Imperfection." Meet Paige and learn about her inspiration here.

In Reflections, interpretation of the theme is highly considered during the review process. To learn more about selection criteria in Reflections, visit our Reflections Awards webpage.
 

Accepting Imperfection

Categories and Divisions


Students submit their original works of art in one or all of the available arts categories and participate in the appropriate division for their grade: Primary (Pre-K - Grade 2), Intermediate (Grades 3-5), Middle School (Grades 6-8), High School (Grades 9-12), Accessible Arts* (All grades welcome).

Arts Categories
Film

Film Production


Music

Music Composition


Visual Arts

Visual Arts


Dance Choreography

Dance Choreography


Literature

Literature


Photography

Photography



*Students who identify as having a disability and may receive services under IDEA or ADA: Section 504 may enter in the Accessible Arts division or grade division most closely aligned to their support needs.

Congratulations 2023-2024 National PTA Reflections Winners!

From 45 state PTA congresses, National PTA received over 900 student entries inspired by the 2023-2024 Reflections theme I am Hopeful Because.... Head to the Reflections Awards page to find National PTA's official press release and the full list of all 200+ national-level Reflections winners.

I Am Hopeful Because...

Register for the 2024-2025 Reflections Program

Let National PTA know you are participating in the Reflections through your PTA! Your registration helps National PTA show the reach and impact of the program. Due to the large volume of registrants, you will not receive email confirmation.

After registering, use this tool to find your state PTA Reflections webpage for more details on how to participate. Student participants and local PTA units participate according to the specific forms, deadlines and guidelines required by their state PTA.



Frequently Asked Questions


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the National PTA Reflections program. Please remember that submission and participate guidelines are determined at the state PTA level and may vary by state. Please review your state’s Reflections website or contact your state PTA office with specific questions.


General Questions
What are the deadlines to participate?

Each state PTA determines its own process and deadlines for Reflections submissions, so deadlines vary by state. Begin by connecting with your local PTA, and for further support visit your state Reflections website to find specific submission timelines and participation guidelines.

What is Reflections registration, and how do I do it?

By registering your participation in the Reflections program, you are helping National PTA show the reach and impact of the program. Registration is separate from participation. To participate in Reflections, students and local PTAs must follow the process and requirements outlined by their state PTA. Registration opens April 1 at PTA.org/Reflections and runs until Feb. 1 of the following year. Due to the high volume of registrants, you will not receive a confirmation email.  

What do the national Reflections award winners receive? When will you announce the awardees?

State-winning Reflections submissions that advance to the national level go through two rounds of review by arts professionals from across the country. Through the review, over 200 student Reflections participants are selected for recognition with the following awards from National PTA: Award of Merit, Award of Excellence and Award of Outstanding Interpretation. The national awardees are announced on May 1 and are celebrated throughout the following calendar year. Learn more  at PTA.org/ReflectionsAwards

What is the Accessible Arts division?

The division (previously the Special Artist division) was created in 2012 through collaboration between a PTA volunteer committee and arts professionals with expertise in disability advocacy in the arts. The division offers modified rules and guidelines for students with disabilities, who may receive services under IDEA or ADA: Section 504, to participate in the Reflections program. Students may enter the Accessible Arts division and be recognized and awarded prizes as part of the division OR students may enter the grade division most closely aligned to their support needs and be recognized and awarded prizes in the selected division. For specific questions, refer to your state’s Reflections website to ensure that you are participating in the program per their requirements.

Why did the Accessible Arts division change names?

In April 2024, National PTA launched the Accessible Arts division as the replacement title for the Reflections Special Artist division. This change is in response to concern around the term “special” and based on feedback gathered from participants, volunteers and partner non-profit organizations. Moving forward with the title Accessible Arts division recognizes the importance of evolving how we talk about disability to align with and be more inclusive of people with disabilities.  

Does National PTA require PTA membership to participate in the Reflections program?

The Reflections program is an opportunity made available to students through local PTA units. Students are eligible to participate according to the requirements, including membership, set by their state PTA. National PTA does not accept individual entries. Contact your state PTA office with eligibility questions and visit your state’s Reflections website for details to understand what options for participation are available to your family.


Participation Questions
Should I put my name on my Reflections artwork?

It is strongly recommended that Reflections reviews are blind—where judges only see basic entry information such as the title, artist statement and, as necessary, the student’s age. As such, the student’s name and/or other identifying information should not be visible on or within the artwork that will be judged. Things to avoid include adding a credit scrolls in Film entries, recording introductions in a Music entry recording, providing a by-line in Literature entries. Student information will be collected through the required Student Entry Form. 

What are your guidelines on using technology and software to create entries?

Digital technology and/or software can be used to develop, enhance and/or present an entry but may not provide the primary design and/or concept. Entrants must provide a brief description of the tools and method, including any generative elements. Additional state program requirements or exclusions may apply. Refer to your state’s Reflections website to ensure that you are participating in the program per their requirements.

Can a participant submit Reflections artwork created with a friend, teacher and/or adult?

Reflections encourages and recognizes individual creativity, so entries must be the creative product of the student artist alone. National PTA will recognize only one student as the award recipient for an entry, and they should be the primary creator of the piece—especially, the interpretation of the theme and the execution of the piece. Other individuals may appear in or perform a student’s work, but help from an adult or collaboration with other students is not allowed. For specific questions regarding eligibility, refer to your state’s Reflections website to ensure that you are participating in the program per their requirements.

Can I submit an entry in a language other than English?

Students for whom English is not their first language may submit entries in their own language. However, an interpretive translation in English must accompany the entry. Translators should make every attempt to retain the same level of language and accuracy that is reflected in the student’s original work.

What are your guidelines on copyrighted materials?

The intention of the Reflections program is to encourage and showcase original artwork created by the student in response to the annual theme. Use of copyrighted material, including any copyrighted cartoon characters, copyrighted recorded music or copyrighted photographs, stock images or material downloaded from the internet, is not acceptable, except for the following:

  • Entries may include public places, well-known products, trademarks or certain other copyrighted material as long as that copyrighted material is incidental to the subject matter of the piece and/or is a smaller element of a whole. The resulting work cannot try to establish an association between the student and the trademark/business/material or influence the purchase/non-purchase of the trademarked good.
  • If background music is used in dance choreography and film production entries, it must be cited on the entry form (title, composer and performer).
  • Visual arts, photography and film production entries may include portions of existing copyrighted works, such as photographs, magazine or digital media clippings and/or type cut out of a newspaper, as long as those portions of copyrighted works are used to create a completely new and different work of art.

For specific questions regarding copyrighted materials, refer to your state’s Reflections website to ensure that you are participating in the program per their requirements.



How to Participate 

The Reflections is largely managed on the state level, so participation in the program is based upon the specific forms, deadlines and guidelines which are required by each state PTA. Students, families or PTA units interested in Reflections should follow the directions below. State PTAs interested in hosting a Reflections program should reach out to National PTA.

Local PTAs

Student Participants Connect with Local PTAs


Students or parents interested in participating in Reflections should begin by connecting with their local PTA. Students must participate through their local PTA and according to the forms, deadlines and requirements set by their state PTA. 

If you have questions or if your school or local PTA does not support the Reflections program, visit your state PTA Reflections website to understand what options for participation may be available to your family.

Not sure if your school has a PTA?
Check out your school's website, ask someone in your school's front office and/or use this Find My PTA Lookup Tool to learn more.
 





State PTAs

PTA Units Follow State PTA Guidelines


PTAs looking to host a Reflections program should reach out to their State PTA. As Reflections is a state-run program, local, district, region and council PTAs should implement the program based upon the specific forms, deadlines and guidelines which are required by their state PTA.  

If your state PTA does not have program guidelines available, please reach out to your State PTA office and refer to our Reflections Leader Resources.

Find your state PTA Reflections webpage.
Use this map to locate your state PTA Reflections webpage and find the information and resources necessary to host a Reflections program for your PTA community. 
 






Get Inspired by Reflections

Celebrating 50+ Years of Reflections

Explore 50+ years of the Reflections program and learn about the impact Reflections has had on students, families and communities since the program was founded in 1969. Enjoy the program's timeline and share your experience with Reflections using #PTAReflections!

Watch and Learn

Watch this short Reflections introduction video to learn the basics of the program. Use #PTAReflections to share this video and get your school community excited about Reflections!


From Art to Exhibit

Student winners from the local level have the opportunity to move up through their district, region, council and state PTA programs to the national level. National Reflections winners are announced in May and celebrated throughout the following year. Visit our awards page for information about and artwork from our national winners.  




Questions?Questions?

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



Reflections Navigation


Find tools to run your Local PTA's Reflections program.

Learn about our winners, events and exhibits and see what you can win!

Explore ways your PTA can advance and advocate for arts education.