Middle school girl’s imaginative Reflections video goes to national contest

ST. GEORGE — It all started with a classroom art assignment: Create an entry for the National Parent Teacher Association Reflections contest. Now one Snow Canyon Middle School girl’s video submission is headed to the national stage.

The PTA Reflections is a nationally acclaimed student recognition program aimed at encouraging artistic creativity in the classroom and at home.

Screenshot from Preslee Gates' video for the PTA Reflections Arts Program, location and date not specified | Screenshot courtesy of Preslee Gates, St. George News
Screenshot from Preslee Gates’ video for the PTA Reflections Arts Program, location and date not specified | Screenshot courtesy of Preslee Gates, St. George News

Students of all ages are invited to participate in a number of categories, and each school year, a new theme is chosen to spark the students’ imaginations. The theme for the 2015-16 contest was “Let Your Imagination Fly.”

And that is just what 14-year-old Preslee Gates did when she created a video submission for the annual contest.

“Our art teacher told us about it,” Gates said of the contest. “I am always thinking of new ideas for videos, so when I thought of it, I thought it would be perfect for the theme.”

Gates conceptualized, filmed, edited and starred — along with a friend — in her upbeat and creative video that truly showed how her imagination could fly. Gates’ video has flown through the contest as well, winning at the school level, the school district level and the state level. Now it is soaring toward the national level.

“I didn’t even think I was going to win,” Gates said of her progression through the contest. ” I just kind of did it for fun, so we were surprised.”

While Gates’ success may have come as a surprise to her, it came as no shock to her art teacher, Laura Graf, who described Gates as a dream student.

Graf said:

I am Preslee’s homeroom teacher as well, and I can see that she understands the importance of working hard and is very organized. She makes lists and always turns things in on time, with her assignments being well thought out and done to the best of her ability. Preslee takes all honors classes and does well in each of them. Not only is she academically superior in school, she is very well-rounded. She is a wonderful pianist and an amazing athlete, participating in competitive leagues in soccer, basketball and softball.

It is that kind of drive and hard work that has made Gates a successful student and budding videographer. In addition to her Reflections video, Gates has found success filming and editing videos of family vacations, events and weddings. She has even started creating videos for professional companies who send her products in exchange for her promotional work, including projects for Arvo Watches, Pear Soxs and Rad Swim.

Creating videos has become a real passion for Gates, a passion she picked up from her older sister, Skylar, and one that has become her own. Recently she purchased her own camera, a Canon Rebel T5i.

Screenshot from Preslee Gates' video for the PTA Reflections Arts Program, location and date not specified | Screenshot courtesy of Preslee Gates, St. George News
Screenshot from Preslee Gates’ video for the PTA Reflections Arts Program, location and date not specified | Screenshot courtesy of Preslee Gates, St. George News

“It took me a year to save up for it,” Gates said. “Now everything I do, I document it.”

Gates said she plans to continue to develop her skills with her new camera — including videography and still photography — and looks forward to what the future will bring.

“I know this is just the beginning for Preslee’s opportunities,” Graf said.

Gates will find out how her video did in the national contest sometime in early May, she said.

Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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