Have You Ordered Your School Awards Yet?


Amara E., T.C. Williams HS, with her Northern Virginia District Reflections award for Literature.

Hey, Reflections Chairs,

Have you ordered your school awards yet? Heads up: Hodges Badge Company has a sale going on. Everything is 10% off if you order by Feb. 15.

Use promo code W12170218E (you don’t have to copy that; it’s on the site).

A Hodges website tip: You don’t have to pay extra to upload a Reflections design to use on your awards; there are several already on the site to choose from. But the list of available logos is very long; it can be hard to locate what you’re looking for amidst logos for swim meets and equestrian events. The list is alphabetical, but you won’t find the Reflections logos under R for “Reflections”; they’re under S for “School – Reflections.”

Hodges is not the only company that has awards specifically for Reflections. Here is an information sheet that includes several companies that are popular places for Reflections ribbons and other awards. Of course, you don’t have to use one of these; this is not an endorsement of any particular company. Feel free to go wherever you want. And let us know if you find a place you love.

The two companies I have used personally — Hodges, and Kustom Imprints (it’s the one you link to if you go through ShopPTA) — are both good at getting awards to you very quickly. So don’t hesitate to try, even if you’re afraid you waited too long to order.

As always, email me if you have any questions.


Catherine Petrini, Reflections Chair

Alexandria PTA Council 
& Northern Virginia PTA District

ShopPTA Awards


New and Improved!

This site is still very new, and I’ve made some changes this week that Reflections chairs should know about.


Fly, by Lillie E, MacArthur Elem.

First, I learned this evening that Fairfax County’s Reflections deadline has changed. The new deadline for Fairfax school chairs to advance their winning entries to the county is November 17. In fact, the Fairfax PTA Council will be accepting the winning entries from Fairfax schools on two dates, Nov. 17 and 18. Here’s a link for more information.

That brings up another group of changes I’ve made to this site. While it was created to serve the Alexandria City Schools’ PTAs, I’ve realized that our counterparts throughout Northern Virginia might also find it helpful to have a one-stop “shop” for all that is Reflections. I can’t offer Arlington, Fairfax, and Falls Church the level of customization that Alexandria chairs can find here, but I have added some material aimed at our friends throughout the Northern Virginia PTA District.

Another change I’ve made is to the Entry Forms that were already posted on the site. A school chair reminded me at the District PTA Training this evening that last year I suggested it could be useful to add the contest theme to the top of the form. So I’ve gone back to the entry forms posted on this site and added the theme at the top of the page. If you’ve already copied and distributed forms, don’t think you have to throw them out and start over. But if you have not, you might delete any files you downloaded earlier and instead download the new versions.

Speaking of Entry Forms, I’ve modified the way I list the forms to choose from for download. Originally I had included each school twice, once with its English-language form and once in Spanish. As the list of schools that have provided info has grown, I’ve realized the sheer length of the list could become hard to navigate. So I cut the list in half by posting each school only once, but with two clickable links (English and Spanish). This is purely a cosmetic change; the content is unmodified.


The list of school and council entry forms available on the site has been streamlined with some layout modifications.

Finally, I noticed by chance that the General Rules list‘s Spanish translation, provided by the National and State PTAs, has an error. Apparently it was adapted from last year’s rules sheet, but someone missed the fact that it still mentioned last year’s theme! I found a translation of this year’s theme on the Theme Search form, and cut-and-pasted to add it to the General Rules sheet. So if you are planning to use the General Rules in Spanish translation but have not yet distributed them, you might delete the old version from your computer and download the new, corrected one.

Did I mention that this site is a work in progress? I’ll continue to add new information and to update anything that becomes out of date. And let me know if you’re looking for other information that is not provided.




Expand Your School’s Contest!

Are you a Reflections school chair who would like to receive more entries? How many is a “normal” number of entries? The answers are all across the board. Last year, among the 12 ACPS schools that took part in Reflections, the smallest contest received 2 entries; the largest had about 200. So there is no “right” number of entries, but we’d all love to get more students involved in creating art and submitting it to the contest. So what are some tips for expanding your contest?

  • sturge-with-inspiration-still-shot-crop

    With Inspiration, by J. Sturge (Charles Barrett)

    Publicize, publicize, publicize! How do you let students and parents know about your contest? Some possibilities include backpack flyers or packets, morning or afternoon P.A. announcements, flyers on the wall, calls for entries in PTA and school newsletters, info on PTA and school websites, announcements made by teachers in the classroom, and Reflections “stations” at school (with entry forms, general rules sheets, category rules sheets, and collection boxes), and more.

  • Speak with teachers about using the Reflections theme as the subject of a class assignment. Give teachers the entry forms and make sure students fill them out. Offer to talk to classes yourself to provide instructions on entering.
  • Offer incentives to students who submit entries by the deadline. Make sure they have their entry forms completely filled out. Incentives will vary depending on your budget and the age of the students. You might try stickers, pencils, or glow bracelets. Talk to teachers about offering extra credit.
  • Offer a prize to the teacher who gets the most entries from her or his students. One school Reflections Chair arranged with the principal to give the winning teacher a one-time 15-minute break during the school day, with the principal watching the class during that time! Or you might try a small gift card to a bookstore or coffee shop.
  • Host a Reflections Night! Mount Vernon pioneered this idea and continues to hold this popular, crazy-fun event each year. (It’s this Friday.) Students and their families are invited to eat pizza (free from the PTA) and make art. Each arts category has a station set up somewhere in the school, staffed by teachers and parent volunteers who offer art supplies, electronic equipment, and support. This event requires many volunteers, but it’s a key element in making MVCS’s Reflections program the biggest in the city. Several ACPS schools have adapted the idea to a smaller event, one that supports only one (or a few) of the six arts categories and requires fewer volunteers.
  • Start an After-School Reflections Club or one-time activity session. Talk to your PTA President about inviting students to stay after school — once, a few times, or on a regular basis — to work on Reflections entries. You can focus on one arts category (for example, a Photography Club that provides guidance, photographic tips, a printer and other equipment, and maybe even a group walking trip to a nearby neighborhood or park to find scenes to photograph).
  • If your PTA provides child care during meetings or other PTA activities, arrange to have Reflections volunteers in the child-care room with art supplies and entry forms, to lead a creative session.

Flying, by Emily M. (Mount Vernon Comm School)

If students will be creating entries at some kind of event, be ready to collect the entries and completed entry forms at the end. If they take home their artwork — planning to fill out the form and submit it later — they are likely to forget. And keep in mind that the quality of the art you receive at large events like a Reflections Art Night is likely to be lower, on average, than the quality of art students create alone at home. That’s OK. The point is to experiment and have fun. And students who have a blast creating art at a large event often go home and create more entries, under conditions better suited to concentrating. It’s also important to remember that Interpretation of the Theme is worth twice as many points as Technique, so artwork that may be a little sloppy because of chaotic surroundings can still do well in the judging!

On the other hand, not every Reflections chair wants to increase the number of entries. If you’re a one-person committee and you’re running Reflections for the first time, you might feel overwhelmed and prefer to have a small contest this year, to give yourself a chance to figure out the job. If that’s the case, just don’t promote the contest heavily. Put out a few newsletter blurbs, post rules near a collection box, and have a reminder read aloud in the morning or afternoon announcements. Don’t try to hold a Reflections evening or to get teachers involved. If you promote less, you’ll probably receive fewer entries, and your contest will be more manageable. But we hope that next year, after you have a better idea of how all of this works, you’ll be ready to expand your contest to encourage more students to enter.

Have you tried anything different for increasing the number of entries received by your school? Please tell us about it in the Comments section.







Welcome to 2016-17 Reflections!

It’s a new school year, and a new Reflections contest. The theme this year:

“What is Your Story?”

Whether you’re a school Reflections chair, a student who wants to enter, or the parent of a student entrant, we hope you’ll find everything you need on this site. Please keep in mind that the site is still a work in progress. If you find a broken link or need information that is not yet here, please let us know by contacting the Alexandria Reflections Chair at alexandriaPTACreflections@gmail.com

Reflections is unusual in that any student can win recognition, not just those who have previously shown great talent or skill in the arts. That’s because the judging depends not only on technique, but also on creativity, and — especially — on the student’s expression of the contest theme through art. Reflections encourages students to experiment. Never made a film before? That doesn’t matter. Come up with an idea, film it, and you could win an award, even against students with more experience. Of course, this isn’t really about the awards. It’s about using art to tell your story, whatever that might be.

Need inspiration? Look through our gallery of last year’s Reflections winners, or see Reflections artwork from the past few years, scattered throughout this site.

And here are some helpful links to other pages, to help you get started:


Music Is Joy and Fun, by Alexis M., Mt Vernon Community School


Reflections Contacts

Entry Forms

Rules for Entrants

Rules for the Six Arts Categories