Up until this year, students with disabilities were required to compete at grade level with their non-disabled peers. So for instance, a child with a significant disability who was listed with the school at a grade level of 9 but who functionally was not at the same level as non-disabled 9th graders, still would have his/her work compared to and graded against those non-disabled peers. Not suprisingly, seldom did a student with disabilities receive the highest recognition. But this year is different.
This year the National PTA has established another artist category call the Special Artist. So, if a student qualifies for special education, that student may enter the Reflections contest with his non-disabled peers or under the Special Artist division. I believe this will open the Reflections contest to a lot more students.
Ashley is one of those students! This year's Reflections theme is "The Magic of a Moment." Ashley entered in the literary category with a poem about her first trip to the beach. It was a very simple poem and included on the page a picture of her experiencing the beach for the first time. Here's that picture which was taken by my brother, Carl of Hampton Roads Photography and what she wrote for her submission:
Lo and behold, she won the award at her school for Outstanding Interpretation! Her work is now forwarded on to the county level for additional judging, and then to the state, and so on, until she hopefully reaches the National Level.
Regardless of where her art journey ends, I am so very proud of her!!