Many neighborhood students have discovered the arts through a program sponsored by the national PTAs.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade throughout RISD participated in the Cultural Arts Reflections Program. The theme for the annual arts project is “Dare To Discover.”

Any school with an active PTA can take part in the program. Each participating school holds a contest for the best original student artwork in four categories: music; literature, which includes prose and poetry; photography; and other visual arts, which includes paintings, drawings and collages.

“Art builds self esteem. It gives students a chance to express their own ideas,” says Amelia McKeel, an art teacher at Lake Highlands Elementary.

“The cultural arts project makes available a variety of media for students to choose from. They have a choice about the way they express themselves.”

Lake Highlands Elementary is one of the many neighborhood schools to take part in the program. Principal Caren Edelstein says she is happy to have the Reflections Program in her school because it helped the students develop their creativity.

Students are not required to participate in the program, but those who do enjoy themselves, Edelstein says.

Students at the elementary did not make their projects during class time, McKeel says, but received advice in their homerooms.

“It (the cultural arts program) is something extra that students do on their own time,” McKeel says. “It takes commitment.”

Winners from all the RISD schools were put on display at the RISD Administration Building, 400 S. Greenville. The RISD Council of PTAs will choose artwork from school winners to represent the district at a North Texas competition. The winners will be chosen by Jan. 10, says Vickie Albright, the council’s cultural arts chairperson.

North Texas winners go to a state contest, where winners will advance to the national contest. Their work also will be displayed at the National Convention of PTAs this summer, she says.

“The students are very proud of their work,” McKeel says. “They love having it displayed and having other people see it.”