Monday, October 20, 2008

Drug-free poster contest picks winners


Sprawling artwork embellishing the walls of the Mural Room of the Santa Barbara Courthouse typically commands the attention of those who enter the chamber, but the dozens of people seated on its leather-bound benches yesterday probably only glanced at the walls fleetingly.
Another form of artwork held their gaze straight ahead: the winners of the 18th Annual Red Ribbon Kids Fight Drugs Poster Contest.

Displayed on easels along the front of the room, the 12 winning designs stood out with a blaze of color as families, friends and community leaders gathered to recognize the top artists.
“What a job these kids have done,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Gittler, describing how more than 1,000 students submitted a poster during the K-8 contest.
Along with a winner from each grade level, judges selected three designs as the cream of the crop. This year’s top honors went to Jenny Jang, a fifth-grade student from Ellwood Elementary School.
Her depiction of Olympic athletes standing on the podium with their fists raised high was accompanied by the words, “Life is like the Olympics. You’re always a winner if you don’t do drugs!”
Eighth-grade Goleta Valley Junior High student Chris Pisano’s comic book-inspired take on the theme “Ask me, See me, Be me… I’m Drug Free!” took the second-place award, while Sarah Jang, a first grader at Ellwood Elementary School, won third place.
Explaining her depiction of a girl skipping rope, Sarah Jang said, “It’s my favorite thing to do in school.” She agreed with emcee Debby Davison Phelps, a board member of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, that skipping rope while on drugs would be next to impossible.
The 12 winning designs will be featured in a calendar that will be sent to 20,000 students on the South Coast prior to winter break. The winning artists also received a savings bond funded by drug seizure monies from the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The nine grade-level winners, from kindergarten to eighth grade, are Tyler Norma, Jessica Rabinowitz, Mori Chiba, Lissette Gonzales, Madison Lewandowski, Evelyn Slaught, Marla Ruiz, Sophia Fueng and Marie Takahashi.
Anita Chamberlain, the police department’s DARE officer, also handed out honorable mention ribbons to 38 other students, many who attended the awards reception with their families yesterday.
When asked to explain her poster, Lewandowski pointed to one side of the design, a dark and dreary area where she said people take drugs.
“On the other side of the wall, they don’t take drugs and it’s all happy with bees and butterflies,” she said.

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