Jackson-Milton High School students gives drug addiction message on plow painting

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By Bruce Walton



Jackson-Milton High School teacher Katelyn Amendolora said her art class chose the opioid-epidemic theme for a Paint the Plow contest to express that Ohio is more than just a statistic.

“It is about the hope that we can recover from this problem. As individuals they can hopefully seek out the other side for healthier living,” she said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation contest is a competition for schools to showcase student talent and to make a statement to those who see it.

The students’ mural starts with a flatlined heartbeat over a dense dark forest on the left, next to the state of Ohio engulfed in flames and billowing clouds of smoke. A syringe injects itself into the state next to a bottle of prescription pills.

The black clouds begin to fade out further on the right as the image leads to a healthy forest opening to a field and a returning heart rate.

The painting also has the acronym “D.E.A.D. Drugs End All Dreams.”

Ohio is the leading state in the U.S. for opioid-overdose deaths, according to a study from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, with 2,698 overdose deaths in 2015.

Senior Journey Morris has been the main contributor with the art classes, conceptualizing the idea for the painting. Morris spearheaded the design for the plow mural, just like she did for the texting and driving one that won the Paint the Plow contest last year. Morris said the mural encompasses the dark problems the opioid epidemic has brought to Ohio but also the potential to overcome the damage.

“This year, we really wanted to grab the attention of a bigger issue, especially in Ohio,” she said.

The mural’s purpose is a warning for others not to go down a destructive path of drug abuse.

The project took a little more than a month to finish with 20 art students. Amendolora said the making of the mural became a conversation piece and brought to the school a greater amount of attention about the epidemic.

Morris will be enrolling in Youngstown State University in the fall majoring in art because she wants to continue creating messages with her art.

“I’ve got a lot of talent for a small school, so I’m amazed at what they came together and did, and they really admire Journey and all of her talents,” Amendolora said.

The plow will be judged alongside the plows of other participants in ODOT District 4 at the District Roadeo, a driving and loading skills competition for ODOT drivers, at Kent State University in August.

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