Five Agoura High School students took home prestigious awards last Thursday during the 12th District PTA Reflections contest held at the Ventura County Office of Education in Camarillo.
Reflections is an annual nationwide arts recognition program for students from pre-school to high school.
Since 1969, students have been submitting theme-based original pieces in the areas of dance choreography, music composition, film production, literature, photography and visual arts.
Tanner Markowitz, Wanjiakun Zhu and Christina Greico led the Agoura High contingent of artistic achievers who submitted entries centering around this year's theme, “The Magic of a Moment.”
All three received Awards of Excellence and will be advancing to the state round this spring.
In addition, Brennan Lieninger received an Award of Merit for his film “Sidewalk” and Etta D’ Orazio was recognized for her music composition “The Scabbard’s Song.”
Markowitz, 15, took the prize for his music composition “Rhapsody in Heaven.” The high school freshman learned how to play the piano and then started composing back when he was in sixth grade.
“I played the piano for my grandpa who was in a home when an old man approached me,” said Markowitz. “He asked what the title of the piece was and it didn’t have one, so he suggested ‘A Rhapsody in Heaven’ and the title stuck.”
Markowitz plans to stick with music and has his sights set on a music scholarship at one of the prestigious music institutions in the country.
Unlike his schoolmate, Zhu has no plans to pursue dance after high school. Zhu who hails from Wu Xi, China, bagged the Award of Excellence in dance choreography for his entry entitled “Belief.”
“Dance is purely for leisure," said the 16-year-old. "It makes me commit my physical self to something productive, keeping me on my toes. My reflection piece is a mirror of what I am, of my flaws and of my ideas. It came together only thanks to the amazing acts of several people who sat in my driveway, spread flower petals and offered advice.”
For Christina Greico, it all came together when she realized “how certain objects can remind you of certain people.”
“I was looking for inspiration when I realized a certain photo of my grandma has always helped me get through rough times,” said the high school junior. “I then remembered that everything was going to be alright.”
Within a day and with two of her best friends as “actors,” the 16-year-old wrapped up her film entry “The Look.” Greico plans to take more film and photography classes in her senior year and then media arts and possibly an MBA after that.
Markowitz, Zhu and Greico will be showcasing their artworks at the upcoming California State PTA Convention in San Jose in May.
Winners at the state level will be advancing to the national round and may be featured in a Reflections traveling exhibit.