Bright Future: Natchez High students win Mississippi PTA awards
NATCHEZ — The blinking red light of a video camera wasn’t as intimidating for Jordan Couch as the thought of performing the same choreographed dance in front of hundreds of people.
“I’m nervous,” said the 19-year-old special education student at Natchez High School. “I have to practice.”
Couch was one of 19 students at the high school who received awards as part of the 2013-14 Mississippi PTA Reflections Program.
The theme for this year’s annual competition was “Believe, Dream, Inspire,” which aligned perfectly with Couch’s entry.
Students were able to submit entries for a variety of categories, including dance choreography, literature, photography, film production, musical composition and visual arts.
A special artist division was included for the first time this year, allowing students with physical, cognitive or mental health challenges to enter the competition.
Couch and Tar’Mara Pollard earned first place awards in the special artist divisions.
NHS special education teaching assistant Patrice Cothren said she, along with NHS Reflections chairman Greg West, helped Couch pick the perfect song for her dance.
“We picked two songs out, and Mr. West played the song and (Couch) really liked it,” Cothren said. “We started playing the song, and she started dancing.”
Couch began dancing to the tune of the popular 1996 song “I Believe I Can Fly” as Cothren and West stood back and filmed her choreographed dance.
“I liked expressing myself through the moves to the song and to the beat,” Couch said. “I liked the song and the dance.”
West sent off the video along with dozens of other submissions of NHS students and was pleasantly surprised to see the results of their hard work and dedication.
“This is our third year with the program, but we had more first-place winners this year than ever before,” West said. “It was great to see our students recognized for their work.”
Seventeen students from NHS received awards including eight first place recognitions.
The students will travel to Tougaloo College in Jackson April 26 to receive their state awards, and all first-place winners will have the opportunity to represent Mississippi at the national level during a convention in Austin, Texas.
Cothren said she received the invitation for Coach and Pollard to attend the convention, with a note saying Couch might be asked to perform her choreographed dance in front of audiences at the convention.
“I guess we’re going to have to practice before we go,” Cothren said, smiling at Coach. “We’ll have to get ready if we’re going to perform in front of all those people.”
Presenting Pollard’s project won’t require as much rehearsal, as Pollard was awarded the first place award in the photography category with her entry titled “Mrs. C is Good.”
Pollard submitted a photo of Cothren and another special education student at the high school to the competition.
“I like taking pictures,” Pollard said. “I take pictures of my friends and family.”
Since 1969, the Reflections program has encouraged millions of students to explore their artistic talents by creating works of art for fun and recognition. Hundreds of thousands of students participate in the Reflections program through their local PTAs each year. Students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 are encouraged to submit works of art in the various categories.