Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the National PTA Reflections program.

What is the Reflections program?

The Reflections program was founded by Mary Lou Anderson in 1969 and provides students an opportunity for recognition and access to the arts which boosts student confidence and success in the arts and in life. Each year, students in pre-K through grade 12 create and submit original works of art in response to a student-created theme selected through the annual Reflections Theme Search Contest.

Based on state PTA rules and guidelines, art is submitted and may advance from the local PTA level up through district/region/council and state PTA competitions to the national level for awards and recognition opportunities.

What art categories and divisions are available in the Reflections program?

Students participate in the Reflections program in the division for their grade: primary (pre-K to grade 2), intermediate (grades 3-5), middle school (grades 6-8), high school (grades 9-12) and special artist (all grades welcome). Students may submit in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and/or visual arts.

However, submission and category guidelines are determined at the state PTA level and may vary by state. Please review your state’s Reflections website or contact your state PTA office for category guidelines and related questions.

What is the special artist division?

In 2012, the special artist division was created through collaboration between a PTA volunteer committee and arts professionals with expertise in disability advocacy in the arts. The division offers modified rules and guidelines for students with disabilities, who may receive services under IDEA or ADA: Section 504, to participate in the Reflections program. Students may enter the grade division most closely aligned to their functional abilities and be recognized and awarded prizes as part of the general student population OR they may enter the special artist division and be recognized and awarded prizes as part of this division.

For specific questions, refer to your state’s Reflections website to ensure that you are participating in the program per their requirements.

What is Reflections registration, and how do I do it?

By registering your participation in the Reflections program, you are helping National PTA show the reach and impact of the program. Registration is separate from participation.

Registration opens April 1 at and runs until Feb. 1 of the following year. Due to the high volume of registrants, please note you will not receive a confirmation email.  

What do the national Reflections award winners receive? When will you announce the awardees?

State-winning Reflections submissions that advance to the national level go through two rounds of review by esteemed arts professionals across the country. Through the review, over 200 student Reflections participants are selected for recognition with the following awards from National PTA: Award of Merit, Award of Excellence and Award of Outstanding Interpretation. The national awardees are announced on May 1 and are celebrated throughout the following calendar year. 

Learn more about the awards and prizes offered to national level winners by National PTA at