UNION, NJ – A Union High School student has been awarded a National Award of Excellence in Photography in the 2019-2020 National PTA Reflections Program.

Barbara Exilus won the award with her photograph “Look Within”.  Exilus was among the twenty-seven New Jersey students who advanced to Nationals.

“The photograph I took is of my brother deeply looking into the broken mirror,” said Exilus.  “His reflection and the broken shard of mirror is a representation of the incredible pressure and a need to reach unattainable standards of beauty and fitting in.  Many young people in today's society are feeling forced to reach many unrealistic standards.  His facial expression represents all the pressure on many young adults and children and the unhappiness that they may feel.”

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Each year, students in Grades Pre-K through 12 are recognized for bringing a theme to life through dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts.  Township of Union students from grades K-12 participated by submitting their entries in all categories to their local PTAs.  Five Union students moved on to National judging. 

“The Union High School students who participate every year in this program are so very talented,” said Dolly Webb, PTA Secretary and Reflections Chair for Union High School and Livingston Elementary School.  “The Photography teacher Ms. Arrietta always ensures their work is top-notch and this submission by Barbara Exilus reflected just that.  The artist statement makes a huge difference in judging and Barbara captured all the details of her photograph exceptionally well.”

The National PTA chooses one Outstanding Interpretation for each Arts Category plus one for the Special Artist Category; three Award of Excellence for each Art Category in each Age Division; and five Awards of Merit for each Art Category in each Age Division.