Student art at Reflections reception leaves judges floored

February 9, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Mackenzi Hirayama, a Beaver Lake Middle School eighth-grader, stands with her Reflections award-winning photograph, ‘Unreachable,’ at the district award exhibit. By Greg Farrar

Mackenzi Hirayama, a Beaver Lake Middle School eighth-grader, stands with her Reflections award-winning photograph, ‘Unreachable,’ at the district award exhibit. By Greg Farrar

Inspiring photographs, enticing artwork and poetic verse were among the works honored at the Issaquah PTSA Council’s districtwide Reflections reception Jan. 20 at the Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus.

This year, 244 students were recognized for having competed at the district Reflections competition. PTSA officials invited the students and their families to a reception, so their works could be viewed and honored.

“This is the largest participation we’ve had at the district level,” Donna Gelinas, co-chair for Reflections, said while looking around at the packed auditorium.

This year’s theme, “Wow!” produced entries in six categories — visual arts, photography, literature, music composition, film/video and dance choreography.“It is very fun and there is a lot of diversity in how the kids interpreted and displayed what the theme meant,” Gelinas said.

For Ashley Montague, a 10-year-old Maple Hills Elementary School student, it meant drawing a picture of a clown fish she saw while on vacation in Hawaii.

“It was so amazing how many and how colorful the fish were,” she said. “I saw clown fish and Angel fish and sea turtles.”

The Reflections program was started in 1969 to provide an opportunity for students to use the arts to express themselves.

“It is another way to bring art into our classrooms and our kids’ lives,” Gelinas said, although most pieces are developed outside the classroom. “It is a way to also encourage students do it on their own, to try art and new skills in a way where they get great recognition.”

All categories are judged at the school, district, state and national levels, except film/video and dance choreography, which are only judged through the state level.

Of the 244 students, 52 are moving on to the state competition, Connie Rawson, co-chair for the event, said.

One of those was Mackenzi Hirayama, an eighth-grader from Beaver Lake Middle School, who took a photo of a telephone pole from its base looking upward.

“I took the photo in my first-trimester photography class,” she said about her photo, titled “Unreachable.” “We were supposed to try a new technique for taking pictures, so we were walking around, and I looked up and came across the pole. I took the camera and set it against it, and I just thought it turned out really cool, how it blended eventually and looked like the sky.”

“The project was designed to get kids to look at the world from a different angle and take a more artful approach to their photos,” said Leora Clemans, Mackenzi’s photography teacher. “That happened with Mackenzi’s even though she was a beginner.”

Mackenzi said she has since taken up photography as a hobby and her parents recently bought her a camera.

PTSA members received more than 1,277 entries from students from various grade levels and 21 schools in the district.

“Some students are talented at athletics, some are talented artists and some are gifted writers,” said Superintendent Steve Rasmussen, who attended the reception. “Art is a very important part of our curriculum that we have in our schools and this program gives students another opportunity to shine.”

Winners of the state competition will be announced in April. Students can attend the state reception May 3 at the Washington state PTSA Convention. Winners from the state competition will move on to the national competition.

Moving on to state

Elementary schools

Apollo: Spencer Slaton

Briarwood: Erika Cacchione

Cascade Ridge: June Chong and Mallory Hunt

Challenger: Danielle Miller and Brandon Cooley

Clark: Jay Ellis, Angela Larsen and Soumya Ayelasomayajula

Cougar Ridge: Susanna McIntyre, Camille Prescott and Lauren Harwood

Discovery: Andrew Ruan, Salina Zhang, Eleane Ye, Maxwell Ji, Ava Stockman, Grace Giordano and Ellie Bacon

Endeavour: Betty Zhou, Spencer Young and Liam Paup

Grand Ridge: Indiana Cowan and Isha Radramuthry

Issaquah Valley: Henry King, Katie Kim, Ashlyn Aske and Chase Bellas

Newcastle: Amanda Roberts and Ambree Burggraaf

Sunny Hills: Audrey Qiu, Jasmine Cheng and Paige Caldwell

Sunset: Ally Latham

Middle schools

Beaver Lake: Jessica Guo and Mackenzie Hirayama

Issaquah Middle: David Lu, Sophia Fang and Zach Doherty

Maywood Middle: Mara Page

Pine Lake: Jeffrey Zhu and Angie Cluff

High schools

Issaquah: Yidi Li

Skyline: Michelle Snyder, Kevin Maybee, Dave Lee, Jenna Kovalsky, Claire Giordano, Brian Burgess, Claudia Ma, Mark Mulka and William Dou

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