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Students at Roosevelt Elementary school created works of art as part of the school's Reflections art program. Tonight is the grand opening of an exhibit featuring these works. (photo by Brandon Wise)

MONTANA AVE — Beauty is …

“For people with a passion for fashion and for love,” one girl said.

Beauty is …

“Nature,” another student said.

Beauty is …

“Friends,” according to another young girl.

Those are just some of the sentiments expressed by a group of students at Roosevelt Elementary School who through an art project with the Parent Teacher Association recently artistically displayed their thoughts on the concept of beauty.

A part of the Roosevelt PTA’s Reflections Art Program, approximately 300 pieces representing various media from paint to collages to mixed media will be on display at the school’s auditorium for the next two weeks, kicking off with an opening reception and awards ceremony tonight at 6:30.

“It encourages students to express themselves creatively and for them to have an opportunity to be recognized for it,” Diana Hobstetter, the chair of the PTA’s Reflections committee, said.

While all students tonight will receive recognition for their entries, a select few will be awarded as the best in their respective categories — music, dance, film, literature, photography, painting and drawing — and go on to the district level competition. If successful, the winner will then go on to higher levels of competition, eventually ending up in the national race.

The program saw participation explode this year, going from roughly 70 entries to more than 300, which represents about half of the student population, an increase that some attribute to heightened communications efforts, including a new Web site.

Jen Maxcy, the PTA president at Roosevelt, said the program introduces students to the idea of unlimited media that goes beyond the conventional paintings and drawings.

“They are not told they have to do a painting, they are not told they have to do it this way or that way,” Maxcy, who has two children at Roosevelt, said. “For them, they can see a piece of art, an expression and I think it’s a lovely thing.”

Among the participants was Gigi Grossman, a fourth grader who focused her project on friends, drawing caricatures and taking photos of her friends.

Grossman, who is Hobstetter’s daughter, said her original plan was to make her family the subject of her piece but found it difficult to take photos since so many members live out of state.

“I think it’s really fun to do an art project that is themed,” she said.

The auditorium on Monday was transformed into an art gallery showcasing the young thoughts of elementary school children, its walls covered in construction paper and canvases that are splashed with bright cheerful colors. Some students experimented with unconventional methods, one using a hanger and another a mirror for their projects.

Sofia Rossignol, a kindergarten student, focused her project on a white fish because she liked it. Her peer, Natalie Anderson, drew a butterfly and a flower.

“I decided to draw that because it’s pretty,” Anderson, also a kindergarten student, said.

Many of the pieces were created during a series of lunchtime workshops hosted by parents who would set up tables with art supplies on the playground.

“It’s really a great example of building upon children’s creativity and artistic expression in a variety of ways,” Natalie Burton, the principal, said.