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Reflections of success

MIKE McGEE | 4/8/2016, 11:02 a.m.
“As a parent myself I never encouraged my son to be a part of the arts and when I look ...
Evan Smith and Taryn Watson were two of several Overall Award of Excellence art contest winners announced during the Reflections Awards Ceremony of the Dallas ISD Councils of PTAs. Mike McGee

The Dallas Examiner

“As a parent myself I never encouraged my son to be a part of the arts and when I look back I think, how did I miss the opportunity?” expressed Dr. Cynthia Wilson, Dallas ISD chief of staff, as she welcomed parents and students to the Dallas ISD Northeast, Northwest and Trinity Councils of PTAs Reflections Awards Ceremony.

The celebration of the creative arts was held at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts on March 22.

“One evening he said to his father and I, ‘Are you guys coming to my show?’” the doctor explained. “And we were like, ‘Show? What are you talking about?’”

Her son had learned to play guitar and became a member of a band on his own initiative, she told the crowd that gathered.

Let Your Imagination Fly was the theme for the 2015-2016 challenge. The philosophy behind the contest was “The arts play a critical role in student’s success in school and beyond, enhancing their reading and language skills, mathematical skills, thinking skills, social skills and motivation to learn,” according to the Dallas ISD Councils of PTAs.

However, Wilson broke it down to a more personal level.

“… It’s so important to not only develop the academic child but to develop the whole child, so we are so encouraged by all of these students here,” she voiced. “We are so encouraged by all these parents who have joined us tonight.”

The three councils that serve the Dallas ISD are the “first line of support” for local PTAs. They are based upon geographic regions of the district and encompass their respective local high schools as well as the area “feeder” elementary, junior high and magnet schools.

The grade divisions for the contest are primary (pre-kindergarten to second grade), intermediate (grades third through fifth), middle school (grades sixth through eighth), high school (grades ninth through 12th) and Special Artist, a grade division for special needs students.

The categories open for entries are dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts.

Maria Arita, mistress of ceremonies and Emmy-winning former CBS news anchor/reporter, noted that she had close ties to the awards since she was the parent of a Booker T. student herself.

“We’ve been a little bit melancholy,” the proud mom admitted. “My daughter – she’s a music student, so she’ll be graduating in May, and just when this was happening to my now-28-year-old son when he was 18, I remember you could hear a pin drop in the room.”

Honors for five different prize levels were handed out at the ceremony and included the Participation Award, Honorable Mention, Overall Award of Merit, Award of Excellence and the highest honor, Overall Award of Excellence.

Entries that garnered that award – for their exceptional interpretation of the Reflections theme, extreme creativity and extraordinary execution – were advanced to the Texas PTA level of the competition. Winners there will move on to the later national judging.

Competition was fierce since there were more than 1,000 entries that went on to the statewide judging tier, one official said.