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Alexandria Students Explore Heroism in City Art Contest

“Super Letters,” by Saha Irwin (Jefferson-Houston).

Alexandria Students Explore Heroism in City Art Contest. 

By Carolanne Wilson

Alexandria, VA—Alexandria City Public School students express their definitions of heroes through art at the 2018-2019 Alexandria PTA Reflections contest. Forty-nine students, ranging from pre-k to high school seniors, won a total of 57 awards this year. 

The contest theme, “Heroes Around Me,” is expressed through film, literature, music, photography, dance and visual art entries. Experts in the various mediums evaluate the works by creativity, technique and interpretation of the theme. 

Student interpretations of heroism range from superheroes to first responders. Some entrants take a more abstract approach to the topic. T.C. Williams sophomore Kelly Jones describes the continuous development of people’s views of heroes in her winning essay, “The Heroic Transformation.” 

“Heroes All Around Me” by Riley Zwiselsberger (1st grade, Charles Barrett)

Others look to their personal role models for inspiration, like George Washington Middle School’s Eliza Gwin whose film left judges with the message “heroes don’t have to fly, or never make mistakes.”

Contest winners also express that idols are not always of the human variety. Maury first-grader Charlie Strauss won first for his painting, “Pollination All Around Us,” recognizing the hard work of bees.

“Pollination All Around Us,” Charlie Strauss (Maury).

While Olivia Foster, a George Mason second-grader and winner of a Director’s Award, celebrates her pet goldfish in “Gerald the Hero.”

For the first time, the city received an entry for the Special Artists division, a category for special needs students. Nathalie Garza, a second-grader at James Polk Elementary, won first-place in this division for her painting, “My Parents Are Heroes.”

“My Parents Are Heroes,” by Nathalie Garza (James Polk).

Alexandria PTA Reflections is a preliminary contest for the multistage National PTA’s Reflections competition, the nation’s largest and oldest arts education program. The city’s 22 first-place winners have advanced to the Northern Virginia round and are awaiting to hear the results this month.

Alexandria’s winners and participants will be celebrated on March 22 at an award and art show held at the Oswald Durant Arts Center. The gallery will run through mid-May and is free to the public.


“Hometown Heroes,” by Neema Dillard (Jefferson-Houston).

Alexandria PTA Reflections Winners



“Super Hero Dance,” Charlotte Dines (MacArthur).

1st Place Charlotte Dines, K, MacArthur, “Super Hero Dance”

2nd Place Cora Wilson, K, John Adams, “My Daddy Is a Superhero”


1st Place Saha Irwin, 3rd grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Try Everything”

2nd Place (tie) Jennifer Adu-Wadier, 5th grade, James Polk, “Heros Making a Stand”

2nd Place (tie) Sophia Zabel, 5th grade, Mt Vernon, “A Clown’s Purpose”



1st Place Karina Bilimoria, 2nd grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Heroes Recycle”

“We Are Heroes,” (still shot) by Eliza Gwin (George Washington Middle).


1st Place Elisa Quesada Sayler, 5th grade, Mt Vernon, “Heroes Around Me”

Middle School

1st Place Eliza Gwin, 7th grade, George Washington, “We Are Heroes” 

2nd Place Daniel Dawit, 6th grade, Hammond, “My Hero Lisa Norman”



1st Place Sophia Chavez, 2nd grade, Mt Vernon, “Maria’s Story” 

2nd Place Ruby Atkisson, 1st grade, MacArthur, “Ms Magui Is a Hero”

3rd Place Olivia Foster, 2nd grade, George Mason, “My Memorys”

HM Matthew Demers, 1st grade, Maury, “My Hero Is Gone” 


“The Butterflies Around Me,” Leah Devendorf (George Washington)

1st Place Zoe Foster, 4th grade, Maury, “Guinea Pig Story”

2nd Place Caroline Osinski, 5th grade, George Mason, “My Friends Are My Hero”

3rd Place (tie) Addison Gutherie, 4th grade, James Polk, “Earth’s Hero” 

3rd Place (tie) Tess Sidley, 5th grade, Mt Vernon, “Heroes Around Me” 

HM Megan Alvarenga, 5th grade, Cora Kelly, “Mom”

DIR Amelia Ruth Parks, 3rd grade, MacArthur, “A Hero Within”

Middle School

1st Place Chloe Yokitis, 7th grade, George Washington, “Falling Down”

2nd Place Daniel Dawit, 6th grade, Hammond, “Heroes”

High School

1st Place Kelly Jones, 11th grade, TC Williams, “The Heroic Transformation”


“Gerald the Hero,” Olivia Foster (George Mason).


1st Place Will MacKay, 2nd grade, MacArthur, “Every Brother Is a Hero” 

2nd Place Lydia Quesada Sayler, K, Mt Vernon, “We Can All Be Heroes”


1st Place Sadie Szamosfalvi, 3rd grade, MacArthur, “Hero’s Help”

2nd Place Nora Beekman, 4th grade, Mt Vernon, “Willow”

3rd Place Lucy Hunnicutt, 4th grade, John Adams, “Look Up”

Middle School

“I am Superkid,” by Catherine Parks (MacArthur).

1st Place Eliana Rougle, 7th grade, Hammond, “The Musical Journey of Heroes”

2nd Place Eliza Gwin, 7th grade, George Washington, “Heroes”

High School

1st Place Jonathan Morgan Petrini, 11th grade, TC Williams, “Kaleidoscope”



“Everybody Can Be a Hero,” by Ella Weber (Charles Barrett).

1st Place Riley Zwiselsberger, 1st grade, Charles Barrett, “Heroes All Around Me” 

2nd Place Drew Frazier, 1st grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Long Time Hero”

3rd Place Catherine Parks, 1st grade, MacArthur, “Hero at the White House”


1st Place Ella Weber, 5th grade, Charles Barrett, “Every Body Can Be a Hero” 

2nd Place (tie) Adelaide Flint, 5th grade, George Mason, “Nurse Joy”

2nd Place (tie) Amelia Parks, 3rd grade, MacArthur, “Secret Service Hero”

Middle School

1st Place Leah Devendorf, 8th grade, George Washington, “The Butterflies Around Me”

2nd Place Daniel Dawit, 6th grade, Hammond, “The Capital of Heroes”

3rd Place Lucien Andrews, 5th grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Captain Caterpillar” 

“Unconditional Love,” by Claudia Pareja (T.C. Williams).

High School

1st Place Claudia Pareja, 12th grade, TC Williams, “Unconditional Love”



1st Place Charlie Strauss, 1st grade, Maury, “Pollination All Around Us”

2nd Place Joshua Berona, 1st grade, Charles Barrett, “Johnny’s Rainbow”

3rd Place Catherine Parks, 1st grade, MacArthur, “I Am Superkid”

HM Freya Montes de Oca, 2nd grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Portrait of Helen Keller” 

DIR Olivia Foster, 2nd grade, George Mason, “Gerald the Hero”

DIR Brooklyn Bostic, 1st grade, John Adams, “Heroes That Help Us”


1st Place Saha Irwin, 3rd grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Super Letters”

2nd Place Brooke Hunnicutt, 4th grade, John Adams,

“The Great Mysterious Superhero” 

“The Great Mysterious Superhero,” by Brooke Hunnicutt (John Adams).

3rd Place Nora Beekman, 4th grade, Mt Vernon, “Mote: Guardians of the Sea”

HM Sofia Carranza, 4th grade, William Ramsay, “The Great Moon”

HM Kate Joffrion, 4th grade, MacArthur, “Women Change the World”

HM Daisy Soisuvarn, 5th grade, Charles Barrett, “Every Friend Is a Hero”

Middle School

1st Place Neema Dillard, 8th grade, Jefferson-Houston, “Hometown Heroes”

2nd Place (tie) Neli Leberon Leonor, 7th grade, Hammond, “Brenda” 

2nd Place (tie) EllaMae Fitzgerald, 8th grade, George Washington, “Gigantagirl”

High School

“November, 6th,” by Claudia Martino (T.C. Williams)

1st Place Claudia Martino, 9th grade, TC Williams, “November 6th, 2018”

Special Artist

1st Place Nathalie Garza, 2nd grade, James Polk, “My Parents Are My Heroes”



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