ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwire - Jan 23, 2012) - National PTA® and the U.S. Department of Education honored students on Friday, January 13th for their award-winning artwork from PTA's Reflections Program. A ribbon-cutting ceremony held at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. officially marked the opening of the exhibit which features student artwork from the 2010-2011 Reflections Program, themed "Together we can..."

This year's opening ceremony featured special guest speakers and artistic performances from award-winning students. Highlights from this year's event included:


Dancers from CityDance Conservatory
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Singers and instrumentalists from Young Artists of America
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

An eight-piece string orchestra from Cabin John Middle School
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.


Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, Department of Education
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.
"All of us working together -- the Department of Education, the National PTA, schools and arts organizations -- is the only way we can get things done. I worry about the arts going away in schools, especially in these tough economic times. We all have to continue to invest. Cutting the arts in schools is a misguided choice. Budgets aren't just numbers, they represent our values as a country. What we call 'extracurricular' activities is what makes a difference for students and helps them stay in school. We do a grave disservice to our children and our country when we walk away from the arts."

Otha Thornton, President-Elect, National PTA
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.
"What is or is not important to learn is a question for another day, but isn't it interesting to think about how many things can be learned and retained because of music, dance, drama, and pictures? If all of our children were doing fantastically well without the arts, I might be willing to promote the arts on a smaller scale. The thing is, I don't think our world can afford a smaller scale, do you? Every child benefits through the arts, and they benefit artistically, cognitively, socially, and physically."

Deba Leach, Arts Education Counselor to the Senior Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.
"So, Sunil [introducing Sunil Iyengar, Director, Research & Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts] -- let me appeal to the poet in you for a moment -- I will give you a metaphor, one drawn from language more at home in the Dept of Agriculture down the street when the food pyramid -- or whatever graphic we are using these days -- is discussed -- or farther down Pennsylvania Avenue in the East Wing of the White House in a meeting about school lunches in the office of the First Lady: here's the question: If education is a taco is arts education the salsa -- spicy and optional? Or is it more like the bean, the grain, the beef, the salt -- essential to our educational diet? I know what I think. Are you going to find some data that bears that out?" Sunil Iyengar Response: "No, it's the whole meal!"

Sunil Iyengar, Director, Research & Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts
Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.
"Years of research by the National Endowment for the Arts has validated this connection -- between arts participation and broader types of social and civic engagement -- in study after study. We know, for example, that arts-goers are two to three times more likely than non-arts-goers to volunteer in their communities. These patterns appear independent of education level, gender, race, or ethnicity.

We may well ask ourselves: WHY do we see these connections? One plausible theory is that the arts foster powers of empathy -- the ability to see a person or viewpoint from multiple angles, and to imagine or re-imagine its potential. Children and teenagers who receive an arts education -- whether in the classroom or in more informal settings -- are acquiring the skills and training they will need to navigate the complexities of life and work after school; not incidentally, they are also learning how to enjoy the ride."

The exhibit will be on display for public viewing through March 7, 2012. To visit the exhibit, contact Nicole Carinci at 202-453-5585 or at

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

About the Reflections Program
In its more than 40-year history, the Reflections Program has encouraged millions of students across the nation and in American schools overseas to explore their artistic talents. PTA believes that all children deserve a quality arts education and encourages students to pursue artistic expression through participation in its annual Reflections Program. The program offers students the opportunity to create works of art for fun and recognition. Students in preschool through grade 12 are encouraged to submit works of art in six arts areas: dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts (which include art forms such as drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage). For more information about the National Reflections program please visit,

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Contact Information:

James Martinez

Cell: (571) 329-9352