Local students win at state level in cultural arts contest

Local students win at state level in cultural arts contest

Students David Scherker (left) and Leia Schwartz are surprised with the news of their wins by
Reflections chair Pamela Neumann.

When Palmetto Bay’s Leia Schwartz and Kendall’s David Scherker, both students at Coral Reef High School, were invited to attend the general meeting of Miami-Dade County PTAat CRHS on Feb. 21, they were told that it was to provide entertainment and represent Reflections, the PTA’s cultural arts contest.

Once there, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were state level winners in the competition.

A nationwide contest sponsored annually by the PTA, this year’s theme was “The Magic of a Moment.” Students were asked to “reflect” on that theme and create a special work in one of the categories: Visual Arts, Literature, Dance Choreography, Photography, Musical Composition and Film Production.

There were 23 winners selected from Coral Reef High School that advanced to the county competition, and of them 13 were selected as winners and moved on to the state competition. Results from that level were received on Feb. 21 and without telling the winners they had won, arrangements were made to have them attend the meeting.

Leia Schwartz won in the category of Musical Composition and David Scherker won for his entry in Film Production. Both will now represent Florida in the National competition.

Before the surprise announcement, Scherker showed the video he made, Save the Magic, which talked about the magic of arts in the school system, and Schwartz sang the song she wrote for the contest, called Embrace Each Moment. Then PTA/PTSA Reflections chair Pamela Neumann took the microphone and told them the good news.

“I had thought that I was just at the meeting to provide entertainment by singing my song,” Leia Schwartz said later. “That was the ploy my parents used to get me to go. I never dreamed that I was there so they could tell me that I won. So you can imagine my surprise when they announced that I was the state winner.

“My immediate thought was ‘don’t they mean county? They haven’t announced the winners to states yet.’ But then I realized that I had heard correctly,”Schwartz added. “I never dreamed that I could win at the state level two years in a row. I couldn’t wipe the huge grin off of my face. I normally hate surprises, but this one was pretty amazing!”

Schwartz was the state of Florida winner last year as well, when the theme was “Diversity means…” and her musical composition went to the Nationals and received an Honorable Mention there.

Scherker entered the PTA’s competition for the first time this year, so the evening’s announcement really was unexpected and emotionally charged.

“It was a great surprise,” Scherker said. “I had no idea that the video had won, and never suspected that it would. My father told me that I had been asked to show the video as an example for the PTA Reflections in order to convince me to go, but never let on that I had won the state level.

“It was great that I was able to share that moment with my family. I am deeply honored to be one of the state winners and I truly hope that my video can have a positive impact in the future status of the arts in public schools.”

Winners in the national competition are expected to be announced in April or May.

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