National Art Showcase Features John Tyson Student Composition

Felix Nguyen of John Tyson Elementary School will be recognized Wednesday, Jan. 31 in the 2024 National PTA Reflections Student Art Showcase.

Felix earned first in Arkansas and a national award of merit for his piano musical composition titled “Rise Up,” according to the national PTA website. The fourth-grader is the only Arkansan who’ll be recognized nationally for music composition in the showcase.

“I feel proud of myself,” Felix said, “but I also feel thankful to my piano teacher and violin teacher.”

Felix’s award-winning piece is called is a story of a boy climbing a ladder, which was inspired by the contest’s theme of “Show Your Voice,” he said.

The piece begins softly and "rises up" in intensity as it progresses, Felix said.

“At the end, he shows the world that he has risen up by ‘showing his voice,’” he said.

The 2024 National PTA Reflections Student Art Showcase will be featured virtually at 7 p.m. on Wednesday on the National PTA's YouTube Channel and features the winners of the 2022-23 PTA Reflections contest.

The 2024 National PTA Reflections Student Art Showcase will be featured virtually at 7 p.m. on Wednesday on the National PTA's YouTube Channel and features the winners of the 2022-23 PTA Reflections contest.

More than 300,000 pre-K through 12th-grade students create original works of art in response to the national PTA Reflections program annually, according to the organization’s website. The program helps youth explore their thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.

Felix was one of six Springdale Public Schools students to be recognized in the 2022-23 Arkansas PTA Reflections contest, according to the Arkansas PTA website. The other five students all stem from Shaw Elementary School and are Nora Davis for dance chorography, Jax Roberts for literature and Kingston DennisAddie Rose Simco and Kinley White for photography.

Felix, who began playing piano at 4, has annually earned state or national recognitions in the PTA Reflections program since he initially entered the contest with the composition of “Felix’s Happy Song” as a first-grader, said Jennifer Boogart, John Tyson Elementary School EAST facilitator, GT facilitator and FoodCorps site supervisor. The entire school is offered the opportunity to participate in the program annually.

The fifth-grader said he also earned first in state for “Felix’s Happy Song” as a first-grader, first in state and an award of merit at nationals as a second-grader and first in state as a third-grader, all in music composition. He received a certificate and a medal for each recognition.

Although all of his previous entries featured just the piano, Felix said he began playing the violin last year and used both the violin and piano in his 2023-24 PTA Reflection’s musical composition entry titled “Lost,” inspired by the contest’s theme of “I’m Hopeful Because.”

His violin teacher, Holly Smardo of Fayetteville, accompanied Felix on the violin, while he played the piano for the piece.

Boogart said the PTA Reflections program has both educational and relational value for schools.

“I know him on a different level, other than just a student in my class,” she said, noting Felix takes music lessons outside of class and doesn’t have the opportunity to play piano or violin at school. “I know that he's a talented pianist and violinist, and I know that he has the capability of composing music, but I wouldn't know that if I didn't establish that relationship with him.”

Boogart used a film a student created about the elementary school’s Free Little Pantry that was one of the four PTA Reflections submissions from John Tyson Elementary this year as an example of the learning value of the program.

The student had to write a script, learn about the pantry and research hunger statistics in Arkansas before even beginning the film, she said.

“He learned all of the video skills, writing skills and production skills in order to make this video,” Boogart said. “So, there are tons of educational components to this contest.”

Felix said he plans to continue to playing and composing music for the piano and violin and may even explore playing the guitar, making videos for YouTube and performing in places like airports or malls in the future.

“It gives me enjoyment whenever I play piano for my class or the school at a talent show,” he said. “It all makes me feel proud of myself that I'm actually doing this.”

Felix is the son of Jane Wenren and Norman Nguyen.

The deadline to enter the 2023-24 PTA Reflections contest is Feb. 1, 2024. Registration is available HERE. Contest categories include dance chorography, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts.

The annual National PTA Reflections Student Arts Showcase features a selection of artists from across the country and honors over 200 national awardees from the 2022-2023 program, which was based on the theme "Show Your Voice!"

Watch the National PTA Reflections Student showcase HERE.