Students offer ‘reflections’ on creating a better society

January 11, 2011

By Ari Cetron

Contributed Samantha Stendal’s painting ‘Together We Can Unite Our World One Step at a Time’ qualified for state competition.

For years, Samantha Stendal, a Skyline High School senior, wanted to participate in the annual Reflections art contest, but she kept missing the deadline. This time, she managed to enter and her persistence paid off.

One of Stendal’s paintings, “Together We Can Unite Our World One Step at a Time,” was just named a district-level finalist.

“It makes me really happy to know that other people see my painting and get hope from it,” she said.

Reflections is a national contest sponsored by PTAs with a different theme chosen each year. This year the theme is “Together we can…”

Next year’s theme, “Diversity is…,” provides students with another positive theme to illustrate, write about or choreograph in their spare time.

Students must develop a work of art reflecting the theme in a variety of art forms.

“They interpret it to the best of their ability,” said Lauri Cikatz, who organized the contest at Skyline.

Students submit their work first at the school level. From there, some advance to a district-level competition and winners then move on to state.

Any winners at the state level will move on to the national competition.

The Issaquah School District last week announced the winners of the district-level competitions. The winners at the state level will likely be announced in spring.

Stendal got the idea for her painting — her third painting ever — while on a trip to Africa with her father.

While on the trip, the pair, with another man, visited a local school. The man with whom they were traveling remembered the name of the school and realized that he sponsored a child there.

The two were able to meet for the first time and quickly connected.

“Even though he was a stranger, they were just walking hand in hand,” Stendal said.

When she heard about the theme of this year’s contest, she knew that painting the two of them would be a good fit.

“We’re not so different. No matter where you are, you can connect,” she said.

Looking back at the painting, Stendal said she is happy with the look of it, but she’s learned new techniques, particularly for making skin tones, which she wishes she could incorporate into the painting.

Maywood Middle School eighth-grader Micheal Vercheak created a circle of shoes on a mat with laces of adjacent strings tied together — a visual he realized had a striking resemblance to a circle of people holding hands.

At first, Vercheak said he nearly threw the photo away, as it had not turned out as nicely as he had hoped.

“I didn’t like it at all,” he said, adding that he had considered instead submitting a photo of the Space Needle.

When the news arrived that he was advancing to the state competition, he was shocked.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said with a laugh.

Clark Elementary School fourth-grader Kerrek Matson took a different approach to the Reflections theme. He drew a menagerie of animals, including owls, humpback whales, manta rays, porcupines, elk, eagles, cheetahs and warthogs.

Together, we can save native species he said, explaining, “It’s about saving the world and providing a place for animals to live.”

Ari Cetron: 392-6434, ext. 233, or Reporters Laura Geggel and Tim Pfarr contributed to this story. Comment at

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