On Nov. 16 at the Kaiser library, the PTSA announced the winners of the annual Reflections contest. Entries represented original works in six categories: dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and visual arts. This year’s theme was “Within Reach.”
First place winners for the literature, special artist, visual arts, photography, dance choreography, music composition, and film production were Jolie Ching, Nicole Wayne, Holly Iwanaga, Makana Richter, Stacy Savchenko, Kevin Chong, and Henry Nguyen, respectively. Each first place received $200 from the Friends of Kaiser PTSA, and second and third runner ups were awarded $100 and $75. All first, second, and third place projects will compete at the state level. “It was a pretty good opportunity to see how my music composition skills compare and how they would be judged by other people in their perspectives,” said senior Kevin Chong, explaining his motivations for entering in the music composition division. Chong’s upbeat piano solo, The Infinite Key, won first in the music composition category.
This year, 68 entries were submitted to the contest. “We have so many students who work in their own way–their own music and their own art, and it may not be affiliated specifically with a class… [The contest] gives an opportunity to showcase the talent we have at Kaiser… an opportunity for students to do well and be recognized by the school,” said Amy Conners, a Kaiser art teacher and one of the coordinators of the Reflections contest. Science teacher Jasmine Mathew and librarian Lois Nagamine also coordinated the event, along with members of the PTSA.
One project that caught Conners’ eye was an interactive styrofoam globe depicting the element mercury. “It struck me because of the amount of detail and thought that the person put into it. To create a sphere that you actually open and that has more information and artistic ideas inside,” she said. Ann Olson, Kaiser’s new PCNC, and a coordinator of the contest felt particularly moved by senior Makana Richter’s winning photography entry, which featured a toddler reaching for a butterfly on her father’s head. “It was so cute. It tickled my heart when I saw it, and the photographer wrote that the butterfly is ‘within reach.’” Richter said of his piece, “I typically am the kind of person who pushes when the door says pull, and I learn only after that that was a mistake, so my entry …was flawed, however, in its own way, beautiful.”
The creation process was not without challenges. “[My] biggest struggle would be trying to add uniqueness to it,” said Chong. “It’s kind of a rule of thumb that composers like to get ideas that are inspired by others, so when I was making the piece I tried to ask myself many times, ‘what are different ways I could incorporate uniqueness from within me into this piece?” In addition to planning and creating original works, students also had to come up with their own interpretation of the theme and find a way to incorporate it into their projects. A few students translated the theme into achievability and potential, like Chong, who said, “The piece could have been achievable, or within reach, if you practiced enough times to be able to play it… while it may be difficult looking at first, if you really just put your heart and mind into giving it your best efforts, then for sure you can definitely play that piece”.
“For [the PTSA and administration] to recognize my work and consider it to be good is something that I find really invaluable,” Chong said about his experience.