PTA Reflections State Award Winner: Sean Cunneen
By: Erica Prinzo
On May 18th, Sean Cunneen (sophomore) of Rutherford High School performed at the PTA Reflections awards ceremony at Roselle Park High School. Sean performed his original music composition “Heroes Hanging On,” which won the state award and was given an honorable mention at the national level.
For the past 50 years, the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) has hosted their national “Reflections” contest, which according to their website “has helped students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.” The PTA chooses a unique theme for the contest every year, upon which students must create a unique composition in a chosen category of the arts, such as dance choreography, literature, film production, music composition, visual arts, or photography.
The theme for the 2019 contest was simply “Heroes Around Me.” Given this theme, Sean chose to write a song about the everyday heroes who tend to go unnoticed, such as parents and caregivers. The song begins:
“Every day you see them walking by
Listening to the unheard cries
Of the weak and the old and the young
They’re fathers and mothers, daughters and sons
They may not have much, but they’re second to none
In their care, in their hope, in their love
They’re tired and worn but they put on a smile
They wish they could slow down life for a while
Well they can’t hide away in a suit of armor
And they can’t ride away on the wind
They just keep trying harder and harder
And their spirit won’t give in
And they’ll walk through the darkness
And stay there ‘till the dawn
They’re heroes hanging on”
Sean’s song, set entirely to acoustic guitar, has a simple yet perceptive message that heroes are not just the bold and larger-than-life figures in society, but the everyday people that help others in a multitude of ways. In his reflection about his inspiration for writing the song, Sean wrote: “They are just ordinary people like us who stepped up. Without glory or honor, they must face their battles just by themselves, making them true heroes. I believe these heroes deserve a song as much as brave soldiers, clever innovators, and everyone else venerated by our culture.”
Sean’s message and his success in the PTA Reflections contest has brought much pride to the Rutherford community.