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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Young Artist Earns Top Contest Honors

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Jordan Pereira's poster captured top prize at a state poster competition.
North Adams - Jordan Pereira remembered sitting inside a Framingham Sheraton hotel on June 1 with his parents, his health education teacher, and city firefighter and Fire Education Officer David Simon.

Suspense

As the group listened, the third and second prize winners of the yearly Arson Watch Reward Program poster contest were announced.

Neither winner was Jordan.

Only one prize - the first place award- was yet to be revealed.

"The first two prizes went by and we're sitting there," Jordan said during a June 7 interview. "And then they announced 'And the first prize winner from Berkshire County' and I knew. I was smiling."

Jordan wasn't the only one who sported a big grin; his parents Michael and Lisa Pereira, teacher Brian Keller and Simon were thrilled with the win, Jordan said.

"My parents were very excited," he said.


Jordan Pereira and health teacher Brian Keller
Jordan's prize included a trophy and a $1,000 check. His poster was submitted to the state level competition after winning a previous Berkshire County poster competition. That win earned Jordan a check for $200, said Simon.

A Teacher Believes

Simon and Jordan said that Keller never doubted Jordan would win the state event.

"[Keller] believed the whole time, he truly did," said Simon. "From the moment he knew that Jordan was included in the state competition, he said that Jordan would win. When they announced his name, I said 'This is a great kid and Brian was behind him all the way.'"

"Mr. Keller kept saying he had a feeling," Jordan said.

Keller wears a dog-tag style necklace that is imprinted with the word "believe."

"I truly believed in Jordan," Keller said. "He set his goals and he won."

Winning Poster To Be Featured On Calendar

The award-winning poster fit the contest's "It's Time To Get Alarmed" theme, which focused on the importance of working smoke detectors in the home. Jordan's poster featured many details such as a melting clock and a speech "bubble". The poster will be printed on the cover of state Fire Marshall Stephen Coan's annual report and will also serve as a 2007 Arson Watch program calendar cover.

Calendar copies are expected to be delivered to the Silvio O. Conte Middle School, where Jordan is an eighth grade student, and the city fire department fire house on American Legion Drive.

The Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association sponsors the arson awareness contest. The contest has been offered for 24 years.

Education Validation

Jordan's poster was very well done, said Simon.

"It wasn't only well done artistically but all the information was correct," Simon said. "This means that he picked up information from this [in-school fire education] program. We've done this [poster contest participation] for two years now and we've had a good result. The most exciting thing to me is that this validates our student fire prevention education program."

Students from the Adams Memorial Middle School and the Gabriel Abbott school in Florida also participated at the county level, Simon said.

Additional Artistic Achievement

The win wasn't the first 2006 artistic victory for Jordan. He participated in a recent REACH Community Health Foundation "Clear The Air" anti-smoking competition and his black-and-white poster captured third place.

"It was really more like a doodle," Jordan said of the poster, which depicts a small child at eye-level with a pack of cigarettes and a smoldering cigarette in an ashtray atop a table. "I drew it up in one night. I really didn't expect it to win anything."

Jordan plans to attend Drury High School as a freshman when the 2006-07 school year begins. He is considering a career as a medical doctor, he said.

"I always thought that I could have an art career but I also wanted to be a doctor," he said. "I still want to be a doctor but it's good to know that I have something to fall back on."

More Than One Winner In This Story

Sixth-grade students taught by Keller fared well in the "Clear The Air" contest as well; Stephen Nutt, 12, and Zach Trombley,11, captured the television advertising category first prize and 11-year-old Brianna Lord's television-style ad, which she produced by herself, captured fourth place.

Speaking on June 6, Stephen and Zach described their "Buddies, Not Butts" effort.

"We talked about how smoking can affect your body," said Stephen.

In the award-winning video, Zach acted the role of a young smoker who tried to convince his pal Stephen to fire up a cigarette and join him in smoking. Stephen declined the invitation and informed Zach in a friendly fashion about the dangers of smoking. At the video's conclusion, Zach dropped his cigarette and Stephen promptly extinguished the burning tobacco product, thereby proving that the two youths were "buddies, not butts."

from left, Stephen Nutt, teacher Brian Keller, Brianna Lord and Zach Trombley


Brianna said that her friend and neighbor Rachel Hakeem assisted her by playing a role in her video.

"We were acting like track and field athletes and I pretended to be a smoker," she said. "I was running and I couldn't finish."

Brianna, Stephen, and Zach said that they are pleased that their efforts were considered to be effective smoking deterrents.

Keller noted that the middle school students competed directly with students at Drury High School, and performed very well. Stephen and Zach bested high school entries.

A Fitting End

"They did such a great job that they finished in front of high school kids," Keller said, but added that Drury students who won prizes also worked hard and deserve credit for their efforts. Prize winners Jake Hebert and Katie Dean are former students of Keller, he said, and he offered them congratulations.

Keller said that he is very, very proud of his students and all that they accomplished during the school year. Jordan's state win is a fine way to conclude the academic year, he said.

"This was a fitting end to a year when all my students worked above and beyond what I asked of them. All my students have proven themselves high achievers."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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