Three take state honors in PTA arts contest

Three Mercer Island students have been recognized in the 2007-2008 Washington State Reflections competition. Islander Middle School eighth-grader Stevie Reiff, seventh-grader Christina Sun, and West Mercer second-grader Zack Gottesman received distinguishing awards. The theme of this year’s PTA-organized art contest was “I Can Make a Difference By...”

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2008 4:51pm
  • News
Islander Middle School eighth-grader Stevie Reiff has studied dance since age 2.

Islander Middle School eighth-grader Stevie Reiff has studied dance since age 2.

Three Mercer Island students have been recognized in the 2007-2008 Washington State Reflections competition. Islander Middle School eighth-grader Stevie Reiff, seventh-grader Christina Sun, and West Mercer second-grader Zack Gottesman received distinguishing awards. The theme of this year’s PTA-organized art contest was “I Can Make a Difference By…”

Reiff won highest honors, the Outstanding Intrepretation award, in the state middle/junior division for choreography with her interpretive dance, “I Can Make a Difference One Step at a Time.”

“Dance makes people feel emotion,” Reiff said, adding that the song she chose for her dance, “Hide and Seek,” was about “what’s happening in the world ecologically.”

Reiff, who is a student at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Mercerart, will go on to compete at the national Reflections level. She will perform her dance, which was choreographed for two, with Kayla Pohlman on May 4 at the state PTA conference.

In the music category, Sun won an Award of Excellence for her piano composition “Bells of Joy.”

Sun has been playing piano for six years and composing music for three years under the instruction of Island teacher Sharon VanValin.

“I think that [‘Bells of Joy’] is by far the best piece she’s ever written,” VanValin said. “She worked very, very hard on it, both to express the idea from Reflections and to make a really fine composition.”

Gottesman, the youngest Island laureate, won an Award of Excellence for his heartfelt “Letter to an Iraqi Child,” transcribed verbatim here:

Dear Iraqi school child,

I want to tell you that you should not hate me just because are countrys are in a war. We are not that diffrent. I want to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Zack and I like legos and sports. legos are things that look like squares. My favorite sports are football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. I have 5 people in my family. My mom’s name is shannon, my dad’s name is Greg, and my sister and brother’s names are Elliz and Gabe.

My favorite food is pizza, exept pizza with toppings other than peporoni. My favorite dessert is mint choclate chip ice cream.

I go to school at west mercer elementary. I like dear time. Dear time is when I read silently in class and right now in dear time I am reading Return of The Indian.

Along with this letter I am sending school seplies to help you lern as much as I am. So you see, I am not terible and you should not hate me because I want to help you.

From, Zack Gottesman

The letter was sent to school children in Iraq as part of the U.S. military program “Operation Iraqi Children.” Gottesman submitted his handwritten letter to the Reflections contest as an after-thought.

“Sending the letter to Iraq was the main thing he got out of it. To win [Reflections] at the state level is such an honor for him,” Gottesman’s mother, Shannon, said. “It really boosted his confidence that he’s a good writer.”

The national PTA Reflections contest is an arts recognition and achievement program for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The program provides opportunities for students to express themselves creatively and to receive positive recognition for original works of art inspired by a theme.


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