Magic to Do, the opening number in Pippin, could have been the theme song for the recent opening of the National PTA’s Reflections Program art exhibit at ED’s headquarters.
For nearly half a century, the National PTA has inspired millions of students to become involved in the arts through Reflections, and each year many of the winners are recognized at the Department through its Student Art Exhibit Program. This year’s exhibit includes 65 works by K–12 students from across the country and in U.S. schools abroad on the theme The Magic of a Moment. Writing, dance and film are also showcased in the exhibit.
Before the official ribbon-cutting that opened the exhibit, a capacity audience applauded the artistry of two Reflections competition winners in music and dance. Eighth-grader Bailey Callahan sang and performed on guitar her award-winning composition, The Magic of Moments. Jessica Clay, a high school senior and award winner for dance choreography in the newly created Special Artist Division for students with disabilities, performed her winning dance, Born to Be Somebody, with freshman dancer Kendyl Kokoyama.
The value of both the Reflections program and arts education in America’s schools was affirmed by the guest speakers at the event. Acting Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton welcomed guests to the Department and delivered the important message that arts education matters for “every school and every child.” Art not only tell a child’s personal story, he observed, but it also gives the U.S. a vital leading edge over other nations in “creativity, design, and innovation.”
National PTA President Otha Thornton explained that the PTA’s mission is to engage parents to make sure their students’ education is challenging and rewarding. And echoing the acting deputy secretary’s observation, Thorton said the arts in education helps “students develop critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communication skills that the core subjects can’t foster alone.”
Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), spoke about the importance of the arts as a tool to solve schools’ performance challenges, using the PCAH Turnaround Arts initiative to illustrate her point.
Click here to learn more about the magical moments shared at the Reflections exhibit opening from the OII home room blog, including photos from the event.
Doug Herbert is a special assistant in the Office of Innovation and Improvement.