ACPS Students Win National Acclaim!

The National PTA announced the results of the national level of the Reflections contest today, and two of the winners are ACPS students! Both students have won Awards of Merit, which is a 3rd Place national award.

Our two winners stand near both ends of the age spectrum; one is 1st grader, and the other is a high-school junior. Their categories: Photography and Music Composition.


A 1st Grader With a Unique Perspective

Heroes All Around Me (Photo-PRI)

“Heroes All Around Me,”  by Riley Zwiselsberger, 1st grade, Charles Barrett (Primary Photography)

Riley Zwiselsberger, a 1st grader at Charles Barrett, won in the Photography category (primary division) for a photo called “Heroes All Around Me.”

Many entrants submitted photographs of firefighters, but Riley came up with the unique concept: he lay on the ground, facing up, with a circle of firefighters standing around him, looking down at him and his camera!

He said he’d already known that firefighters save lives. But visiting the station and spending time with his heroes during the photo shoot made him realize that they do much more than that.

“Fire fighters are heroes because they save lives,” Riley wrote in his Artist’s Statement. “I realized … they are also heroes because they love to teach and help people too. They spent so much time with us and made me laugh too!”


A High School Composer’s Inspiration

Jonathan Morgan Petrini, a junior at T.C. Williams, is Alexandria’s other national winner, for his entry in the Music Composition category (high-school division). His classical piece, “Kaleidoscope,” was written for string quartet.

In his Artist’s Statement, Jonathan said that composers such as Bach and Beethoven are heroes because they created art that has inspired generations, art that makes people feel and think.

He also described what it was like to compose the piece and hear it performed while attending the High School Composition Intensive program at Boston Conservatory/Berklee. “To hear my work brought to life was inspiring; to a composer, musicians can be heroes.” He calls the piece “Kaleidoscope” because, “like art, a kaleidoscope reflects reality and transforms it. In this piece, the melody (beginning with the first violin) is reflected and transformed by the other instruments, rotating like shifting colors in a kaleidoscope.”

This is Jonathan’s second National win. He was honored with a National Award of Excellence in 2015-16, also for a Music Composition entry.

Watch a video of his piece being performed below, or listen to the audio version here: Kaleidoscope (audio only)


Winners Five Times Over

Because Reflections is a multi-level competition, both entrants had already won 1st Place awards earlier in the 2018-19 school year in the contests for their schools, the Alexandria PTA Council, The Northern Virginia PTA District, and the Virginia State PTA, before their entries were advanced to the National contest.

Each year, about 300,000 students nationwide create artwork in six different arts categories to compete in the national PTA Reflections program. This year, only 205 students were honored with National awards.

This was the program’s 50th anniversary year.


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