UNION, NJ – Award-winning entries of three Union students were recognized from among 200 submissions at the 2020-2021 New Jersey PTA Reflections program.

In the High School Division, an Award of Excellence was won by Jared Suggs for his ‘Midnight Blur’ photo, and Michael Cross received an Award of Merit for his photo entitled ‘End of Season’.  Livingston School student Sydney Webb won Honorable Mention in the Intermediate Division for her photo, ‘I Matter’.

This year’s National PTA program theme was ‘I Matter Because’.  Each year students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12 are recognized for bringing a theme to life through dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts.  Union students participated by submitting their entries in all categories to their local PTAs.  The Outstanding Interpretation entries advanced to the National PTA for judging.

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“The Union High School students who participate every year in this program are so very talented,” said Dolly Webb, PTA Reflections Chair for Union High School and PTA Recording Secretary for Livingston Elementary School.  “The photography teacher, Tatiana Arrietta, always ensures their work is top-notch and this submission by two students who made Nationals reflected just that.”

Webb said the artist’s statements make a huge difference in judging, and “Michael and Jared captured all the details of their photograph exceptionally well.”  Webb added that Heather Denner, the Reflections Teacher Liaison at Livingston Elementary, encourages her students to think beyond the classroom and reflect on current day.  “I am extremely proud of all our Union students who participate in Reflections.” 

Jared Suggs is a Union High School sophomore.  “I took a self-portrait sitting on my bed, using my camera mounted on a tripod, angled down, and I moved my hands during the exposure to give a motion effect. The photograph shows why I matter by conveying that I play the role of a student, but also a creator. It represents that I have unique ideas and emotions to share for people's enjoyment. I put effort into what I'm passionate about, especially subjects like photography. The movement and blur of my hands symbolizes hard work and determination.”

Honorable Mention winner Sydney Webb is a fourth-grade student at Livingston Elementary School.  “My picture presents all lives matter, especially mine,” she said. “We should be able to do what everyone else in the world can.   You should not judge a book by its cover.  The picture shows that “I Matter” full circle.  All lives matter because we all make a difference in this world.  We should all work together to save “all lives”.