COARSEGOLD – Students from Coarsegold Elementary were awash in colored chalk on a canvas of concrete the first week in September, marking the start of this year’s PTA Reflections Art Contest, and celebrating with a sidewalk mural day.
Heather Gerard is the Vice President of Parental Involvement at the school, where 490 students are enrolled.“One of our PTA goals is to encourage the Arts to stay in the school,” she says. “Reflections is a huge contest started and supported by PTA at a national level.”
Sidewalk art is not an official category in the Reflections contests, says Gerard, “however the PTA felt that it would be a great way to excite the kids about this year’s theme, The Magic of the Moment.”
The national PTA Reflections art program began in 1969 to encourage youth in arts. Categories of expression include dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts.
While participating in the annual competition, Gerard’s group of parent volunteers also sponsors a “classroom project” category especially for Coarsegold students.
“The classes will plan and enter their projects, and work on them together during school time,” says Gerard. “That encourages everyone to get involved in something.”
While most of the individual work on projects is designed to be done at home, organizers are offering some workshops in the library after school.
Judges for the competition are chosen from the community, and students receive a plaque or certificate of recognition, along with the satisfaction of having completed a creative effort.
Gerard emphasizes the importance of parent organizations when it comes to augmenting the classroom curriculum, which is often stripped of creative arts due to budget cuts and time allotment.
“Unfortunately, sometimes the need to meet the state standards overrides even the most enthusiastic teachers’ ability to make time for art in the classroom,” says Gerard. “The help of our faculty and community is essential for us to be able to keep art alive in schools.”
Through the Mary Lou Anderson Reflections Arts Enhancement Grant, the national PTA gives up to three matching grants of $1000 to eligible schools, with special consideration to programs for at-risk students. Grant recipients for 2012-2013 will be announced in October.