Unique Perspectives Bring Home Reflections National Wins

Two ACPS students won Awards of Merit, placing them third in the U.S. at the National PTA’s Reflections arts contest. They are among only 200 winners from more than 300,000 entrants.

First grader Riley Zwiselsberger from Charles Barrett

First grader Riley Zwiselsberger from Charles Barrett

Charles Barrett Elementary first grader Riley Zwiselsberger’s photo, “Heroes All Around Me” won in the Photography category (primary division). Riley and his brother were eager to enter the contest and decided to focus on firefighters. While watching his brother go first with his mom’s camera, Riley thought of a different perspective. When it was his turn, he decided to get down on the ground and photograph firefighters from a kid’s vantage point.

Apparently my brain was working pretty well that day and I came up with this cool idea. And, it worked!” Riley said.

T.C. Williams junior Jonathan Morgan Petrini

T.C. Williams junior Jonathan Morgan Petrini

T.C. Williams junior Jonathan Morgan Petrini won the Music Composition category (high-school division) with his piece, Kaleidoscope.

Jonathan, who plays both the piano and violin, says composing comes naturally to him.

When I’m writing music, I don’t need a piano, I hear it in my head. I have an idea and I just build on it.”

Last summer he attended a High School Composition Intensive program at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and was tasked to write a piece for a string quartet. After a 36-hour stretch of writing and with just five hours of sleep, he wrote Kaleidoscope.

In this piece, the melody is reflected and transformed by the other instruments, rotating like shifting colors in a kaleidoscope,” he said.

Looking ahead to college, Jonathan is leaning toward studying engineering or music, as he likes both math and music. He has a hopeful eye on Juilliard and the University of Virginia, but he says it’s too soon to say.

Give Jonathan’s winning piece a listen. It’s performed here by the Worcester Chamber Music Society:

Before advancing to the National Reflections contest, both students progressed from winning contests for their schools, the Alexandria PTA Council, the Northern Virginia PTA District, and the Virginia State PTA.

Each year, about 300,000 students nationwide create artwork in six different arts categories to compete in the program. This was the program’s 50th anniversary year.

Next year’s theme will be “Look Within.”

ACPS, Alexandria City High School, Awards, Charles Barrett, Video