Florence, AZ – County Attorney James P. Walsh presented awards of the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Anti-Drug Poster Contest on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
"This contest is open to all sixth graders in Pinal County," the County Attorney said. "Over 1,000 entries were received this year, up from 840 last year and a panel of judges narrowed the field to 60 finalists. Once those were chosen the real work began since all the artwork was very impressive."
Mr. Walsh was at hand to honor finalists, their families and teachers at a ceremony in Florence where he unveiled the 2010 Anti-Drug Poster Calendar.
Almost 1,100 students sent their anti-drug art to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office continuing an effort to educate children and families on the dangers of drugs. This effort started in 1990 with Roy Mendoza then Pinal County Attorney. It began as a small art contest in local schools to find out who could draw the best anti-drug message.
The contest was named in memory of former Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Bean who had recently succumbed to cancer.
The best pictures were placed in a month-to-month calendar with the 12 best drawings featured. The idea was to have children show their peers the dangers of drug use.
Nineteen years later, the tradition continues, albeit with some minor modifications to the original month-to-month calendar format.
Mr. Walsh said that the panel of six judges culled the 60 finalists to 9 winners with a grand prize winner, a T-shirt winner and a Tattoo winner. T-shirts featuring the anti-drug message and temporary tattoos will help spread the anti-drug message among impressionable young people.
"I'm glad I wasn't a member of the judging panel," County Attorney Walsh joked. "It was a difficult decision. Our panel worked very hard to chose among an incredible selection of art."
Speaking before a group of student finalists and their parents at The Windmill in Florence, Walsh congratulated those who made the final cut.
"Your work will be an encouragement for all to abstain from drugs," stressed Walsh.
The guest speaker of the night was Gerald Richard, Special Policy Advisor for Law Enforcement at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. He spoke of the dangers of drugs and passionately told children to avoid dealings with strangers.
He engaged the students in a mock convenience store robbery showing how best to react in such a case. His message was not lost on the children and their parents.
In mid-October the nine students whose artwork is on the 2010 design were photographed with County Attorney Walsh at the Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction. The group photo is on the poster with the winning drawings. Walsh said 10,000 posters were made and will be distributed to Pinal County schools and businesses.
This year's grand prize winner Cassie Johnson a sixth grader from the Desert Shadows Middle School of Apache Junction won a $500 prize for her school. Mary Ambrose, Cassie’s teacher, was at hand to receive the check and enjoy her student’s moment of glory. Cassie also received her poster framed with an engraving of her name, school and year of her success.
The T-Shirt winner is Maria Fernanda Flores Coronado from Red Rock Elementary School. About 100 T-Shirts with her art-work on the back were printed and given to all 60 finalists of the contest and other participants.
The Tattoo winner is Mariah S. Rodriquez San Tan Heights Elementary School. Her drawing was reproduced in the form of washable tattoos and 5,000 copies will be distributed to students around the county.
All nine artists won an expenses paid trip to the Challenger Space Center and they get to invite all their classmates to go with them.