A big change in the subtle world of art in an engineering school

The PTSA Reflections art program at RAHS is one of the few bastions of pure artistic expression hosted by a school with such a heavy focus on engineering and science. Despite the curriculum being most centered around other subjects, many students at RAHS find artistic expression to be an important and enjoyable outlet for creativity and value art’s role as a communicating force for ideas in STEM fields. Former Reflections Chair Rebecca Vader sees art as an integral part of an engineering curriculum, and is glad to see many students using their creative talents in the annual national art event she chaired.

“Both art and engineering depend upon the ability to envision something that does not exist, and finding a way to portray that graphically in some manner,” said Vader. “Most scientific concepts and mathematical and engineering diagrams need to be portrayed in a graphical and spatial way–so I think it’s directly applicable for a STEM school.”

Mrs. Vader was a key player in the creation of RAHS’ chapter of the national competition, in which student artwork of all forms is submitted and judged based on it’s unique interpretation of an annual theme. She served as the event’s Chair in RAHS before resigning this year after her son graduated from RAHS in the class of 2016, and also leads the team searching for a replacement to fill her role before next year’s season starts off.

“The next chair should be someone willing to track information over a fairly long season,” said Vader, “it’s an annual program with things to do every few months. The Chair needs to be able to manage their own schedule.”

Among other things, a prospective new Chair would need to complete a basic informational course offered by the PTSA to ensure they are prepared to manage the event.

While Mrs. Vader is looking forward to seeing next year’s student submissions to the event, she also wants to see even more student participation at RAHS in the program during the coming years. She believes the key to raising participation is better getting the word to students who might be interested.
“People might not know, you can win gold medal and a $800 prize if your work is selected for having ‘an Outstanding Interpretation of the Theme’ for your division and age group,” said Vader, “and a chance to have your work displayed in an exhibit in the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. It’s my hope that some day an RAHS student will receive one of these awards in the future.”

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