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Sandy Journal

Oakdale Elementary student among nation’s top in Reflections

Oct 04, 2017 11:24AM ● By Julie Slama

Oakdale Elementary fifth-grader Sarah Baros holds the photo that won her the Award of Merit at the national Reflections contest. (Lori Baros/Oakdale Elementary)

A photo is worth a thousand words — and an award, in the case of Oakdale Elementary fifth-grader Sarah Baros.

On a visit downtown with her mother, Lori, Sarah noticed a homeless man with a dog. She thought about him and returned later with her brother to find out more about the dog. She asked to take his photo.

That photo, set to the theme of “What Is Your Story?” not only won her school’s Reflections arts program contest, but received top honors in the intermediate division at the regional and state level — and the Award of Merit at the national level.

“He was injured in the war and on the streets, he has had his belongings stolen,” Sarah said about the man. “He got his dog to help take care of everything and he calls him ‘Dog.’”

Baros said that her daughter got down on his level for the angle of the photograph.

“It is blurry in the foreground to emphasize the man and his dog,” she said. 

Sarah said she likes taking photos.

“It’s fun to show what I see, but I was so surprised that this photo went so far,” she said.

Sarah was even more shocked when she learned she had won.

“I was confused as my parents came in my classroom with about 10 other people and I looked up from reading and they said I was a winner. I couldn’t believe it,” Sarah said.

She was honored at the Canyons Board of Education meeting as well as at a June PTA conference in Las Vegas, her mother said.

This summer, Sarah had plans to tote around the camera again, in case an opportunity came up to shoot photos for this coming year’s Reflections contest. The 2017–18 theme is “Within Reach.”

The National PTA Reflections awards has celebrated more than 45 years of student achievement in the arts, including dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual art. There also is a special artist division.

Utah PTA has sponsored the Reflections program for more than 40 years.

The Reflections arts program started in 1969 by then Colorado State PTA President Mary Lou Anderson. Since then, Reflections has become an international program as PTAs in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. military schools overseas have joined the 50 states to participate in this program.

Each year, a theme search contest is held where students can submit ideas for upcoming years. Once the National PTA Reflections Committee announces the year’s theme, PTA volunteers coordinate the contest.

With the Reflections contest, a judging process is used that assists in narrowing down the number of entries as artwork passes through different levels of PTA. In Utah there are typically between 10,000 and 13,000 entries submitted each year. Nationally about 300,000 entries are submitted.

Students typically receive two types of awards — the Award of Excellence and the Award of Merit. The Award of Excellence is given to the entries that are judged to be the best in their category. These entries then move on to the next level of judging. The Award of Merit recipients are the runners-up and are recognized at the school, council and region level. If they receive an Award of Excellence at the state level, they advance to the national PTA for the final round of judging.