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Murray Journal

Second-grade Grant Elementary boy wins national award, offers words of wisdom

Jul 12, 2021 02:48PM ● By Julie Slama

Asher Rees spent several hours creating his film entry, “The Little Red Monster,” which won a national award in the PTA Reflections contest. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia and Dan Rees)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Many of us could learn a lesson or two from a second-grader, especially if it’s from Asher Rees of Grant Elementary.

Asher recently was the primary national award of merit winner in the PTA Reflections contest in the category of film.

“It’s a movie about a little monster,” Asher said. “He went and got accessories so he could look like the other monsters and then hoped they would like him.”

Along the way, the monster, one of many characters voiced by family members, discovered something.

“It’s who you are. You are as important as you, and you shouldn’t change yourself. You can like other things that other people have, like a good big nose, but you shouldn’t alter yourself to have that,” he said.

Last summer, Asher came up with the idea based on the Reflections theme, “I will change the world by… .” In the fall, he worked on his Lego film, “The Little Red Monster,” before his school deadline in October. He won that contest as well as his region’s to advance to state. As a state winner, he was honored in the Old Dome Meeting Hall in Riverton on May 11 and his work advanced to nationals.

“They (Reflections PTA officials) told me about it and played my film. Then, I got a cool trophy,” he said, adding that his mother might make him his favorite cake—chocolate raspberry with buttercream.

Along with Asher, several Murray students, including his brother, Sander, who earned the award of merit in film in the intermediate level, were honored at the state level. From Murray High, Brittany Gilmore received honorable mention in dance; Finn Larson won award of merit in film; Alexander Bunker received honorable mention in literature, and Jameson Thackeray received award of merit in photography. From Riverview Junior High, Grace Taeoalii received an award of merit in photography; from Longview Elementary, Noelle Thackeray received an award of merit in dance in the intermediate level; from Horizon, Savannah Shupe received an award of merit in literature in the intermediate level; and also, from Grant Elementary, Olivia Pendergraft received an honorable mention in the 3D art special category.

However, Asher was the only Murray School District national Reflections award-winner in the PTA contest that has more than 300,000 students in pre-K through grade 12 annually create original works of art in response to a student-selected theme. 

“Our little district is doing great things,” PTA region 19 director Jeannette Bowen said. “We had some amazing entries.”

This wasn’t Asher’s only time entering Reflections. He made a 3D art sculpture both in kindergarten and first grade as well as entered photography while in kindergarten. All of his creative artwork won at the school level and advanced to region.

This was his first time making a film—and his first time having his artwork advance to nationals.

For being a national award of merit winner, he will receive a bronze medallion, certificate and his work will be featured in a traveling exhibition.

Asher’s medallion and his state acrylic trophy will join a soccer and basketball trophies, other Reflections trophies, Grant Elementary bulldog awards and sculptures he made amongst some toys on a shelf in his bedroom.

However, Asher isn’t sitting on his laurels. He already is talking about ideas for next year and even offers up some advice for other students wishing to enter Reflections—another good lesson to learn.

“You can do anything you want, as long as you try,” Asher said. “You always win even if you don’t win a trophy. You win in your house.”