Diversity means...the different ways an Oreo cookie can be eaten.
It is the variety of games played on an elementary school playground, or the varying paths individuals take in life.
Those are just a few of the interpretations given by students who entered the PTA Reflections contest this school year when asked to fill in the blank.
After competing at the school and district levels, several students from southwest Riverside County schools were recognized Friday during the 23rd District PTA Reflections Awards Night in Norco. Some even earned the right to move on to state-level competition.
Riley Weldon's musical composition, "Child's Play," earned her an Award of Excellence, meaning her entry has already been sent to be judged at the state level. (A YouTube video of Riley performing her composition is attached to this article.)
A sixth-grader at Warm Springs Middle School, Riley, 11, began playing piano at 5 years old. To her, diversity was the myriad games played on her school playground. She used her talent of playing piano to compose an arrangement depicting just that.
"There are a lot of different races and cultures that come together to play hopscotch, swinging and hide-and-seek," Riley said. "And it all comes together (in my composition)."
Great Oak High School junior Whitney Fogler earned an Award of Merit in the Visual Arts category for her pencil drawing, "A Wrinkle in Time." She said her piece depicts the wisdom of elders.
"The different roads they chose made them wise," said Whitney, who has never taken art lessons.
Several local principals made the drive to Norco Friday for the ceremony. Among them was Murrieta Mesa High School Principal Mary Walters, who said she was grateful for the PTA-sponsored Reflections program.
"It is an opportunity for our students to be able to express themselves," Walters said, "whether it is through art or dance or literature."
Two seniors from Murrieta Mesa High School—Amanda Prom and Delanie Testerman—earned Awards of Excellence.
Murrieta Valley High School Senior Rachael Stickles earned an Award of Excellence in film production. She videoed people eating Oreos.
"Even when eating an Oreo, everyone does everything differently," Rachael said.
The PTA Reflections Program has been a national effort for more than 40 years. PTA believes all children deserve a quality arts education and encourages students to pursue artistic expression through participation in its annual arts Reflections Program, according to Pta.org.
There are six categories: dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts. The program offers students the opportunity to create works of art for fun and recognition, according to the website.
"Reflections is an incredible program that allows students to demonstrate their artistic abilities while interpreting a theme that is submitted by students themselves," said Murrieta Valley Council PTA President Mary Kelley, who made the trip to Norco Friday.
"From the dance choreography category to the literature category, it's always amazing to see how creative our students are," Kelley said. "It's a privilege to be a small part of national program that encourages and supports the arts."
The entries of those who received an Award of Excellence have been sent on the state PTA Reflections contest. All students who received awards Friday were given a $25 cash card from Altura Credit Union, a sponsor of the event.
Students from the Murrieta Valley Unified School District who received awards were: Gunner Stephens, Avaxat Elementary, Award of Merit, Literature; Emileen Flores, Lisa J. Mails Elementary, Award of Excellence, Literature; Daniel Perry, Tovashal Elementary, Award of Merit, Music Composition; Riley Weldon, Warm Springs Middle, Award of Excellence, Music Composition; Arwen Waller, Avaxat Elementary, Award of Excellence, Photography; Mikayla Whitton, Thompson Middle, Award of Merit, Visual Arts; Delanie Testerman, Murrieta Mesa High, Award of Excellence, Visual Arts; Rylie Shaw, Antelope Hills Elementary, Award of Excellence, Choreography; Amanda Prom, Murrieta Mesa High, Award of Excellence, Choreography; Nissabelle Vidal, Murrieta Valley High, Award of Merit, Choreography; Caden Martinez, Rail Ranch Elementary, Award of Merit, Video; Dylan Wager, Warm Springs Middle, Award of Excellence, Film Production; and Rachael Stickles, Murrieta Valley High, Award of Excellence, Film Production.
Students from the Temecula Valley Unified School District who received awards were: Peyton Hahn, Award of Excellence, Literature; Donovan McGarrity, Award of Merit, Literature; Jenna Koford, Award of Excellence, Literature; Justin MacRae, Award of Merit, Musical Composition; Alyssa Rossi, Award of Excellence, Photography; Tanner Rose, Award of Excellence, Photography; Lauren Malcomson, Award of Excellence, Photography; Whitney Fogler, Award of Merit, Visual Arts; and Elizabeth Rudisill, Award of Excellence, Choreography.
Students from the Lake Elsinore Unified School District who received awards were: Colby Potter, Award of Excellence, Literature; Sabrina Huang, Award of Merit, Choreography; Caitlin Vega, Award of Excellence, Choreography.