Details on the Six Arts Categories and General Contest Rules

Reflections accepts artwork in six different arts categories. There is a general list of rules about entering the contest, and we also have individual rules sheets for the separate arts categories, below. The 2018-19 category rules are below. The 2018-19 general rules are not out yet, but they haven’t changed a lot since last year. We’ll get you the updated list if it becomes available. In the meantime, we’ll work off of last year’s rules. Here are some highlights:

General Contest Rules

The artwork must be done by a single student entrant; joint entries are not allowed. (For performance categories, others may help perform the work but may not help in the creative process. See the category rules, links below, for other exceptions.)

Snippet of JM's Sheet Music - Hummingbird Sonata, with no title

Excerpt from “Sonata in E Major, Mvt 1: The Hummingbird Sonata” (Jonathan P, George Washington MS)

Work must be the student’s own and cannot include previously copyrighted material or trademarked characters, except in incidental ways that contribute to a larger whole. Copyright law is unfortunately vague, and please don’t take this for legal advice. But in general, you can’t submit your drawing of R2D2 and his friends. But you can submit your collage that happens to include a small R2D2 figure as a minor part of the work, surrounded by many other non-trademarked items, Or maybe a classroom photograph in which R2D2 can be seen incidentally on a poster in the background. See the contest rules for details, and talk to your school’s Reflections chair if you have questions.


Caporales, by Sofia S., Jefferson Houston School (Dance-Primary)

Reflections artwork may be done at school, at home, or anywhere else, as long as it is the students’ own work and was created with the theme, “Heroes Around Me” in mind.

Since last year, ALL categories require a digital file. Scan your work, include a wordprocessing file with a Lit entry, or take a digital photo. Put the file on a USB drive and include it with your entry. Label the artwork (on the back), and the USB drive with your Name, School, Arts Category, Grade Division, and artwork title. (At many schools, your Reflections chair may take care of generating the digital drive for entries in Literature and Visual Arts if you can’t do it; check with your school chair.)

At this point, we’re guessing there will not be 2018-19 general rules from the state and national PTA, so here are last year’s general rules sheets:

Arts Category Rules

Each category also has its own rules, detailing, for example, how big a Visual Arts entry can be, or what video formats are acceptable for a Dance Choreography entry. And yes, we do have category rules for 2018-19! Below are the highlights. Click at the end of each description to download the complete rules for that category.

Dance Choreography

DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY. An entry consists of a video file (on a USB) of the dance being performed by one or more dancers. Dance entries could be ballet, tap, hip-hop, ethnic folk, contemporary, or any other style. The student entering the contest must be the choreographer. The entrant may also be one of the dancers but does not have to be. The performance can be done with or without costumes and props, and the venue can be onstage, at a dance studio, on the school playground, in your living room, or anywhere else. Please cite any background music on the entry form. (Download complete dance rules here.)

Film Production

FILM PRODUCTION. An entry consists of a video file (on a USB drive) of the film. The student entering the contest must be the writer, director, AND camera operator. The entrant may also be an actor or other on-air talent, but does not have to be. Please list on the entry form the names of anyone else who appears in the film, as well as the singer and song title for any music used in the film. (Download complete film rules here.)


LITERATURE. An entry consists of a written or typed poem, essay, story, or other written work. Illustrations may be included but will not be considered in the judging. The entry must be the exclusive work of the student entrant, but students 1st grade and younger may dictate the work to be written down verbatim by an adult. (Download complete literature rules here.)

Music Composition

MUSIC COMPOSITION. An entry consists of an audio file (on a USB drive) of the music. It can be performed by one or more musicians, which may or may not include the student composer, or it can be a computer-generated “performance” of a composition written by the student. The student entering the contest must be the composer. The composition may have lyrics, but judging is based on the music, which can be any style: rock, jazz, classical, country, r&b, world music of any culture, or any other variety. The judges will consider the composition of the music, not the quality of the performance. Students entering in the Middle School and High School divisions must include a score (sheet music) that can be handwritten, typed, or electronically generated. (Download complete music rules here.)


PHOTOGRAPHY. An entry consists of a printed photograph and a digital file on a USB drive. (Please contact your school Reflections chair if you need help with this.) The photo can be a multiple exposure or photo montage, but must be one seamless print, not a collage. (A photo collage in which photos are manually cut and pasted together would fall under the Visual Arts category.) Some kinds of photo manipulation are allowed, but entries with graphics or lettering over them are not. Photos may be matted, but may not be framed. (Download complete photography rules here.)

Visual Arts

VISUAL ARTS. This category was expanded in recent years to include 3-dimensional art (such as sculptures, wind chimes, and dioramas) as well as flat artwork (such as paintings, computer graphics, and collages). The Visual Arts rules sheet has a more complete list. Original artwork, not copies, must be submitted. 3D art must be portable enough for one person to carry and must not require assembly or repair after transporting; 3D art entries should also include three photos of the artwork, taken from different angles; photos should be included as prints and also as digital files on a USB drive. Flat art pieces, such as paintings and drawings, may be matted but may not be framed. For flat art pieces, submit the actual artwork as well as a digital file on a USB drive. (This is a new requirement for 2017-18; you can scan the artwork to generate the digital file, or take a photo of it and submit the electronic image file on the USB drive.) If you have trouble getting a digital file, please contact your school’s Reflections chair. (Download complete visual arts rules here.)

VisArts (MS) - Ana Humphrey, Through Woven Stories - GWMS

Through Woven Stories, by Ana H., George Washington MS