Panther Run Elementary School fifth grader Karley Kopacz’s national award-winning film was recently on exhibit at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
Kopacz and a group of national winners from various art categories were recognized by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and officials from the National PTA earlier this year at the exhibit’s ribbon cutting. Kopacz won the overall category in the 2018-19 National PTA Reflections Art Contest for “outstanding interpretation” for her film “Heroes for Change.” It’s about the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018 and those fighting for change and a safer world.
Out of more than 300,000 entries nationwide, seven were chosen, one per category, with Kopacz receiving the one, overall award for film.
“The arts are not only an intrinsic part of our needs, but they add so much to the world around us. They amplify things around us that are beautiful, painful and things that we need to pay attention to.” DeVos said.
Kopacz’s film was showcased at the U.S. Department of Education for six weeks and will travel during the summer, including to the 2020 National PTA Annual Convention and Expo’s Reflections Ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky, June 18-21, where it will end its one-year traveling exhibit. The film has been shown in three cities and has also been part of a virtual exhibit.
“Heroes for Change” was also presented at the 2019 National PTA Annual Convention and Reflections Ceremony in Columbus, Ohio, last June, where Kopacz was honored by the National PTA and its president during the art program’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Part of her recognition included an $800 young artists scholarship to further her artistic talents, as well as $200 for her school’s PTA toward the arts and culture. Kopacz also was awarded a Pixelbook by Google. “It’s our responsibility to foster this creativity,” Google Head of Kids & Families Rob Newton said.
Kopacz is proud of the recognition, representing both Florida and Panther Run Elementary School at the national level. She hopes her film is helping to make a difference. “If it isn’t talked about, I’m afraid people will forget it. People are still coping,” she said, knowing the two people she featured, including survivor, Eden Hebron, who witnessed three friends lose their lives, as well as victim Gina Montalto, and what their families continue to go through.