Bring back the art: Lakota PTA rejuvenates student creativity

Participants in the Lakota PTA Reflections program, which is a national PTA art contest. - Courtesy image
Participants in the Lakota PTA Reflections program, which is a national PTA art contest.
— image credit: Courtesy image

After being away for many years, a familiar program is back at Lakota Middle School — and is an overwhelming success.

The Lakota PTA Reflections program, a national PTA art contest, has returned to the school this year. No one can quite remember the last time the art contest was held at Lakota, PTA President Tina Garcia said.

This year's theme was "Beauty Is..." and for its first year back, Lakota had 95 entries.

"To see what some of these kids came up with is mind boggling," PTA volunteer coordinator Pennie Taylor said.

"They were serious about turning in good quality work," Garcia added.

The motivation behind the program is twofold. First and foremost is to bring arts back into the schools and give students an outlet to express themselves, Garcia said. A second reason is part of the Lakota PTA goal this year of increasing PTA involvement in the school and partnering the school with the community.

It took a lot on the part of the PTA to get this program running again. That includes about 35 hours, spent over several Sundays, then up to three hours spent by the judges, all members of the surrounding arts community: Maureen Hathaway of the Federal Way Arts Commission; Garth Lindelef with the tutoring club; Eryn Nelson, a Nautilus art docent; and Melinda Zimmerman with the Auburn Mountainview High School drama department.

Teachers also helped spread the word about the program and helped.

"Without them, it wouldn't have been possible," Garcia said.

There were six categories students could enter: Literature, visual arts, dance choreography, musical composition, film production and photography. Seventeen entries made it to the next round, where the top entries in the district will be shown Jan. 6 at Saghalie Middle School.

For some entries, such as the dance choreography, students had to film themselves and submit a DVD. For musical compositions, students proved their ability and skill by recording a CD of their composition and also including a score of the piece. Visual art pieces and photography had to be mounted.

The top entries will go on to the state PTA level.

The runners-up at the Lakota program still got a chance to shine: Their artwork is in display cases at the front of the school.

Students had to put some thought into the pieces, including an artist statement and a title.

"There was nothing superficial," Garcia said. "Everything had a bigger meaning than just themselves."

Many thought beauty was a greener Earth, Taylor said.

The program will continue on next year. Already, the Lakota PTA is looking for volunteers to help with that, or any other project.

"I'd love to see it continue through once we're done," Taylor said.

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