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Reflections


Reflections Overview For Families and Students

Note: Local PTA and council leaders may find further information and resources on running the Reflections program here.

Welcome to the WSPTA Reflections program!

Reflections is a National PTA arts recognition program that helps students pre-K through grade 12

  • explore their own thoughts, feelings, and ideas
  • develop artistic literacy (by describing how their art relates to a theme)
  • increase confidence
  • find a love for learning that will help them become more successful not only in school but in life.

Students create original works of art in response to a theme. The theme for the 2023-2024 program was “I am Hopeful Because…” The theme for 2024-2025  is “Accepting Imperfection.” Themes are selected from student submissions (see: Theme Search Contest, below). Any PTA/PTSA in good standing may sponsor the program. Students may only submit entries through a PTA/PTSA. Parent groups not affiliated with National PTA are not eligible to sponsor this program.

Students may enter in one or more of the available arts categories (see program details for more information). Finalists from local PTAs will move on to their council PTA (if applicable), then finalists from councils will advance to the state round. Washington State PTA finalists who receive an “Outstanding Interpretation award will advance to the National PTA round.

The deadline for turning in artwork to your school PTA will typically be in late autumn. Local PTAs and councils can choose to accept physical or virtual entries. Only virtual submissions will be sent to the WSPTA level for judging.

Theme Search Contest for 2025-2026

Each year, National PTA seeks a theme for the Reflections program year to be held two years from now. The list of finalists for the 2025-2026 program year will be announced in November.

The student who submits the winning entry will receive $100. Their theme will be presented at the annual National PTA Convention in June 2024. Click here for a list of past themes.

Click here to go to the Reflections Theme Search online entry form.

Click here to watch a 5-minute video walking through the entry form.

Program Details

Young artists get involved through their local PTA or PTSA. A student may submit an entry in any of six arts areas. Only original works of art are accepted. The six art areas are:

  • Literature – works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, drama, short stories and lyrics.
  • Music Composition – original musical composition, with or without words.
  • Photography: color or black and white, included techniques: photogram, negative sandwich, and multiple exposure.
  • Visual Arts: drawing, painting in tempera, oil, acrylic, watercolor & t-shirt paints, computer generated art, two-dimensional collage, printmaking, needlework & leather tooling.
  • Film/Video: original works, with or without sound, of animation, narrative, documentary, experimental or music video/film.
  • Choreography/Dance: originally choreographed dance composition.

Participation is organized by student age and grade levels. Student works are critiqued against others in the same grade division. This allows recognition and judging of artworks by appropriate developmental age and skill levels. The grade divisions are:

  • Primary: Pre-school – Grade 2
  • Intermediate: Grades 3 – 5
  • Middle School: Grades 6 – 8
  • High School: Grades 9 – 12

(For special artist information, see Special Artist Division below)

Entries are judged on creative ability and interpretation of the theme.

Any PTA/PTSA in good standing may sponsor the program. Students may only submit entries through a PTA/PTSA. Parent groups not affiliated with National PTA are not eligible to sponsor this program.

Student Entry Rules

Special Artist Division

The National PTA special artist division is an option for students with a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Generally, rules and guidelines within the special artists division are intended to ensure accessibility to the National PTA Reflections® program and are modeled after the guidelines outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We are asking local PTA chairs and council chairs to verify that artists meet this criteria before judging.

Complete details are included in the 2023-24 Special Artist Rules | en español.

Washington State PTA will be judging the special artist submissions in two divisions:

  • Elementary (Kindergarten – 5th grade)
  • Secondary (6th grade – 12th grade)

Volunteer Opportunities

Would you like to be part of the WSPTA Reflections Committee? We are looking for members with local, council, or state Reflections experience to join the committee for 2023-24. Find out what happens to your students’ art after you submit it and be a part of a program that serves all PTAs in Washington state! The committee is most active between January and May; tasks take place at convention and much can be done from home. Contact reflections@wastatepta.org.

Past Reflections Winners


Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enter the Reflections® art program?

Reflections is a National PTA arts contest open to students in grades pre-K through 12th grade. Although membership in a PTA is not required to enter, a Reflections program is a benefit of attending a school where there is a PTA. Students must enter the contest through a local grade-equivalent school PTA in good standing. A local PTA may, but is not required to, accept entries from students who do not attend its particular school (i.e. home-school students or students from schools where there isn’t a PTA.)

Students who do not attend a PTA school, but wish to enter, should contact the Reflections chair at a grade-equivalent school PTA in their district, to ask if their entry will be accepted by that PTA.

Reflections entries by a student shall not be accepted if submitted directly to a PTA council, Washington State PTA, or National PTA.

What is the 2023-24 Reflections theme?

The 2023-24 Reflections theme is I am Hopeful Because...

How do I submit a 3-D entry?

Check with your local PTA and council to find out if they would like the actual 3D piece or just pictures of the piece. If a 3D entry is moved on to the state level, photos will be submitted electronically through the submission system. Instructions for how to submit photos are found in the Visual Arts Student Entry Packet.

What are the recommendations for quality recordings?

Make the room you record in as quiet as possible. Close windows and turn off all noise-making devices in the room (air conditioners, fans, telephones, etc.). Do not place the recording device on top of an instrument or speakers. If needed, improve recording quality by changing the record volume or microphone location. Pay attention to what is behind the performer – make sure the background isn’t distracting. If using a phone, record in landscape mode, not portrait mode.

Can more than one person create and submit the same entry?

Only one person can submit each entry. However, more than one person can perform in a dance, music or film creation, even though one person is the creator/submitting the entry.

How many entries can one student submit?

Students may submit in as many arts categories as they would like, however, only one entry per arts category is allowed.

What is considered copyrighted material subject to disqualification?

An entrant may use copyrighted material in a Reflections® entry as long as that material is not the primary focus of the entry, or if the entrant is not trying to pass off the copyrighted material as his/her own creation.

For example, if a photograph is taken where someone is wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt, that entry is acceptable as long as the Mickey Mouse character is not the primary focus of the photograph. Even if the entrant takes a photograph of a family with Mickey Mouse at a theme park, that would still be an acceptable photograph if the subject of the photograph is the family and not the Mickey Mouse character. If an entrant creates an entry that includes Mickey Mouse as a primary subject in the artwork, that entry would be infringing on copyrighted material and would be disqualified.

If you have any questions, contact the WSPTA Reflections Chair at reflections@wastatepta.org.

Why are there so many rules? Isn't Reflections a program to encourage kids to be creative?

Since the primary goal of Reflections is to promote creativity, the program’s rules create the necessary boundaries to allow judging, exhibits, and awards.

Most of the rules associated with the Reflections program have been developed to protect student creations once they’ve been turned in and provide the ability for artwork to be displayed. A handful of volunteers are tasked with moving large numbers of artwork from place to place, and we treasure each creation.