Plant City High School and the Arts Council of Plant City are bringing students’ work to the Mercantile downtown from Oct. 15-19.
Plant City residents can soon see how creative local high schoolers are when the annual Reflections Art Program starts up next week.
The program, a movement created by National PTA in 1969, encourages students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade to “explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life,” according to the National PTA website.
Plant City High School students are no strangers to the Reflections event. The school has partnered with the Arts Council of Plant City since 2014 to empower creative Raiders by giving their work a bigger audience with exhibits and displays around town in locations such as the Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College and the Mercantile store downtown. This year, that means once again displaying the students’ submissions in a gallery at the Mercantile for five days next week.
“The Arts Council of Plant City views this as an opportunity for students at the high school level to explore their creative internal talent and bring it to life in the presence of their peers,” Arts Council President Marsha Passmore said.
Reflections is a national contest where students — typically more than 300,000 per year, per National PTA — enter their work in contests at the local, district, regional, state and national levels with the chance to have their work shown first at National PTA’s Convention and Expo each June and then in a traveling exhibit on display throughout the year. Each year has a different student-selected theme, and this school year’s theme is “Look Within.”
Students can work in a variety of mediums for the contest. This year’s categories are dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts (2D and 3D). It’s not unusual for PCHS students to submit entries in all six categories, though there aren’t any music composition or dance choreography entries this year.
The high school’s art department has typically given students time during school hours to work on their submissions, even implementing entire “work day” periods during the week.
“We are thankful for our teachers who help push their students to enter or even make it a class assignment,” PCHS PTSA President Di Lott said. “Sometimes you don’t really know what you are capable of until someone encourages you.”
Last year, according to PCHS Reflections Chair Kristine Trottier, 19 students were awarded at the school’s own ceremony. Eleven of them moved on to the county competition. Five county competitors moved on to the state level and received Awards of Merit. Trottier said 45 students have entered this year’s Reflections competition.
“One thing I really enjoy doing is working with the kids and watching them express their interests and individuality putting all this artwork together,” Trottier said. “I’m really impressed with the quality and the amount of talent these kids have at a high school level.”
The Mercantile, located at 208 S. Collins St., will have the PCHS students’ Reflections submissions on display from 12 to 6 p.m. Oct. 15 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 16-19.