Students Discover What Is ‘Within Reach” For Reflections Program

The annual PTA Reflections Program is a way for students across Londonderry to visualize their dreams for everyone to see. It encourages creativity and self-expression through a variety of categories that culminates in a town-wide exhibit of art, literature, music and dance. This year’s theme is “Within Reach,” and some of the kids at the Matthew Thornton School spent time putting their dreams and goal onto paper with help from PTA members Jodie Nease and Anita Qualter.

Parent Teacher Associations across the country participate, handing out ribbons and certificates to the kids brave enough to put their work on display for the whole town to view and judge. “Every entry that’s entered goes into the town exhibit,” said Nease. The theme is different every year. “It’s nice to see what they come up with,” she said.

As much as the students enjoy submitting for the program, it’s the hard work from the adult volunteers that make it successful. Nease is the Reflections chair and has been running the program for the last six years. Qualter is her assisting this year, while her 9 year old, Shani makes art for the exhibit.

Almost two dozen students used markers, paint and colored pencils to express what “within reach” means to them. A lot of the art had hands and arms stretching towards star studded skies, or microphones. Some of the girls envisioned themselves on stage as singers or dancers, while a few of the boys had other ideas like race tracks or giant jewels.

Eight year old Anna Arnatt said that, for her, the theme meant something “like with goals and passion with whatever you want to do.” She drew a young girl standing in front of a large mirrored wall, like the kind you see in a dance studio. The girl in the picture is reflected in the glass- a nod to the program’s name “Reflection.”

Arnatt said “my passion is to dance and I think it’s fun to dance.” She is a fan of hip-hop dancing and attends classes at Dance Academy in Salem. She said one of her favorite songs to dance to is “I got the magic in me,” by B.O.B. Dancing is way for her to let loose and express herself through movement. She loves being able to perform for her friends and family. When asked why dancing is her favorite, she replied, “you can do whatever you want on stage.”

Dancing is one of the seven categories children can enter for the Reflections Program. Arnatt could do a dance routine if she wanted, but for now she’s happy with her pictures. Kids can also submit photos, videos, poem or stories, and even music. There’s also a category called “special artist,” though the night at Matthew Thornton was dedicated to visual arts.

All of the elementary schools in town plus Moose Hill will be submitting pieces to the exhibit and will be put on display at the Londonderry Middle School on Jan. 6. Winners from the local competition will have their work shown off at a show in March at Derry’s Gilbert H. Hood Middle School. If Arnatt or her classmates win states, Nease said the kids could compete at the national level.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can contact Nease at jodienease@hotmail.com. Parents and students can find a detailed list of rules at nhpta1.org. Parents can also contact their local schools to find out when they will be hosting their own Reflections night.

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