Students participate in drug prevention contest


By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – Fourth grade students from across the state have been recognized for helping promote drug prevention.

Thirty finalists were selected from more than 7,000 students who participated in the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Fourth Grade Folder Contest, which saw the students design posters with a drug prevention message. The finalists were recognized at an award ceremony held on May 3 at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville.

The theme of the contest was “Fun Things to Do Instead of Doing Drugs.”

Finalists from Central Jersey included Grace Crowther of Saint Leo the Great School, Middletown; Danielle Kim of Lafayette Mills School, Manalapan; Sanjay Ravishankar of Kennedy Park School No. 24, Woodbridge; and Miana Schillaci of H.C. Johnson Elementary School, Jackson.

Grace’s message was “I Swim Away From Drugs”; Danielle’s message was “Life is How You Make it Drug Free”; Sanjay’s message was “I will Ride Away from Drugs Without Hesitation”; and Miana’s message was “A Recipe for a Long, Healthy Life”.

Each finalist received a medal and the opportunity to present their poster and their message.

At the ceremony, Jasiel Amigon of St. Joseph School, Carteret, and Justin Ferreras of St. Gerard Majella School, Paterson, were announced as the grand prize winners of the contest. Jaisel’s message was “Layer Your Life with All That is Good” and Justin’s message was “Get Away From Drugs and Have Fun”.

The students’ posters will be featured on 40,000 folders that will be distributed to schools throughout the state in September, according to the press release.

Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, emphasized that all of the finalists were winners. According to Valente, the finalists’ artwork will be featured on a poster distributed by the partnership.

“You [the students] are part of helping other people stay away from drugs,” Valente said.

Valente also recognized the teachers and parents of the students for getting them involved in the contest.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey also praised the students.

“I take the most pride in protecting people,” Carey said. “Keeping kids safe is my top priority.

“I’ve seen the destruction that drugs can do. Many of my friends were doing drugs when we were younger. I’ve met many addicts and none of them are happy that they started using drugs. Every addict wants off drugs.

“You [the students] are helping keep people safe,” Carey said. “You’re promoting a positive message of staying off drugs in the first place. We in law enforcement will always be thankful for you.”