Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council announced 12th grader Alexis Stanley from Panama Central School is the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest.
This is the 12th year for the contest, which is open to all Chautauqua County students grades three through 12. April has been recognized as Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987 when the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence began to increase public awareness and understanding aimed at reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism that too often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.
"Too Smart to Start!" served as not only as the theme for the contest, but is CASAC's year-long prevention education initiative with objectives to:
Alexis Stanley, left, a senior at Panama Central School, is the grand prize winner of the 2013 Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest. Also pictured is Julia Rater, right, the 2012 grand prize winner from Sherman Central School.
increase the number of conversations between parents and caregivers and their underage children about the harmful consequences of underage alcohol and other drug/substance use;
increase the number of underage youth and their parents and caregivers who see underage use of alcohol and other drugs as harmful to their health and well-being; and
increase public disapproval of underage alcohol and other drug use.
CASAC wants young people under the age of 21 to know:
they are too smart to start using alcohol or other drugs;
they are too smart to engage in a behavior that can have dire consequences affecting their physical, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being; and
they are too smart to start using substances that have the possibility of damaging their futures.
According to CASAC's Executive Director Patricia Munson, it is important to get the message out to local youth that as long as they chose not to drink alcohol, they are the majority. According to a 2011 survey administered to Chautauqua County students, grades seven through 12, over 75 percent of them did not drink alcohol in the past 30 days before taking the survey. But the survey also revealed that, of those who did drink alcohol, 36 percent drank it in a private home, their own or a friend's.
Alcohol is still the number one drug of choice for America's young people. All current research indicates alcohol consumption by adolescents can result in impairment of brain development. Reducing drinking among youth, especially targeting ages 9 to 15, is critical to securing them a healthy future. We need to do everything we can to prevent anyone under age 21 from drinking alcohol to delay the first drink as long as possible. The older someone is before they start using alcohol or other drugs, the less chance there is for them to become abusers or addicted.
To make sure kids are too smart to start, take action:
parents, caregivers, teachers and community members should educate themselves;
talk with children early and often about the dangers of alcohol, underage drinking and other drug use; and
make sure young people understand positive ways to fit in, have fun or deal with the pressures of growing up.
The solution is everybody's responsibility.
A total of 252 posters were entered into the contest which was funded by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant. The posters underwent a preliminary judging process by some Jamestown Community College art students under the direction of Associate Professor Yu Kanazawa. Eventually, the final posters will be highlighted on bookmarks which will be distributed to students at all county schools and libraries to announce the 2014 CASAC Poster Contest which will get under way next January.
Participating as judges the ceremony were Heather Miller, Adjunct Instructor of Art at Jamestown Community College, Lisa Lynde, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Angela Peck, Cummins Jamestown Engine Plant, and Sherriff Joe Gerace, Chautauqua County Sherriff's Department.
Louanne Johnson, a nationally known local author, presented a copy of her book "Muchacho" to the library on behalf of CASAC and addressed the audience about her experiences in teaching and motivating teens to accomplish their dreams.
The following are the finalists of the 2013 contest:
2013 Grand Prize: Alexis Stanley, grade 12, Panama Central School
Category A Grades three, four and five: first, Ryan Malarkey, grade 4, Fletcher Elementary School; second, Mika Walters, grade five, Southwestern Central School; third, Cameron Nocero, grade three, Lincoln Elementary School; honorable mention, Jenelle Grigelevich, grade five, Brocton Central School.
Category B Grades six, seven and eight: first, Emily Johnson, grade six, Falconer Central School; second, Michael Quigley, grade seven, Washington Middle School; third, Sydney Aldrich, grade seven, Fredonia Central School; honorable mention, Sarah Marruci, grade seven, Jefferson Middle School.
Category C Grades nine, 10, 11 and 12: first, Kaitlyn Deering, grade 10, Cassadaga Valley Central School; second, Rachael Kosinski, grade 12, Panama Central School; third, Brittany Johnston, grade 11, Cassadaga Valley Central School; honorable mention, Maya Sischo, grade 12, Cassadaga Valley Central School.