Artistic expression through Reflection


Emily Franke

In addition to playing cello, learning piano and singing, junior Ethan Forte dreams of creating music for others to play. Last year, in an effort to get started and practice his skills, he sought out composition contests to enter and discovered the PTA Reflections program, which is a nation-wide arts contest. One goal of Reflections is to encourage students to explore “Explore their talents and express themselves,” according to
This year’s theme is “The world would be a better place if … ,” PTSA President and Reflections Co-Chair Deb Linneman said, and students may submit the Student Participation Form through Monday, Nov. 17, to indicate their intent to submit an application. Actual entries are due Monday, Dec. 1 by 4 p.m..
Linneman said the RBHS PTSA unit can advance three entries per category to the State level. Students who place at state receive an invitation to attend the 2015 Showcase in April, she said, and the judges award 1st through 5th place plus up to five honorable mentions for each category. First place winners then advance to the National level for the final round of judging and  National awards are announced each May.
“Once individuals submit the Reflections Student Entry Form and the completed project by 4 p.m. on Dec. 1, we will start the process to judge the entries,” Linneman said. “We will pick judges from a pool of teachers and experts in the area from the community resources.  All entries will be submitted to the judges anonymously.”
Last year, Forte’s entry focused on the theme, “Believe, Dream, Inspire.” When he started working, Forte said he already had an idea of how he wanted the piece to go and he spent a lot of his time fitting his idea to the requirements.
“It was mostly a cello duet, but I also had a flute interlude that came in every once in a while and it became a trio for the part that the flute played in,” Forte said. “I wrote the song, kind of guided [it] through [the theme], … with the idea of making dreams a reality and i kind of put my thoughts about how it’s hard to go into music past high school and how i would go through and make that reality. It was instrumental, so there weren’t any vocals, so a lot of that came from just the way the music sounded instead of the way the words were written or what they were written about.”
At the district level, Forte won first place in the composition category and went on to earn third place at the state level. After his success last year, and with his continued interest in composition, Forte intends to enter the contest this year as well.
As a first-year Co-Chair of the CPS Reflections Program with Jane Biccum, Linneman said they are experiencing the process first hand.
“There were no other volunteers to chair the Reflections and we felt the program was too important for the students, so we have tried to take the lead to organize this year’s Reflections program,” Linneman said. “We think the theme ‘The world would be a better place if … ‘ will let students just use their imagination in all categories. The sky is the limit with this program to have the opportunity to be creative. We are excited about this program and want to create an awareness that this opportunity is available for all RBHS students.”
By Emily Franke
PTSA Reflections Co-Chairs Deb Linneman and Jane Biccum use Student Participation Forms to prepare for the number of entries they will receive in December. Photo by Emily Franke