Student artworks flourish at Stay in School poster contest

YOUNGSTOWN — Bishop C.M. Jenkins, the keynote speaker of Thursday’s awards breakfast for the 16th annual Stay in School poster contest, had a reason to quit school early in his academic career.

The longtime pastor of Grace Evangelistic Temple Church told the students who were honored about a harrowing confrontation that would make any first-grader shudder after a first day of school.

“It was my first day of school. My teacher asked what my name was, and I answered, ‘Carruthers Magellan Jenkins.’ She must have not liked my answer because she said rather harshly, ‘We must have a class clown here,” ‘ the pastor said. “After I told her my name again, she called in my mother.”

Jenkins said that teacher, who didn’t believe him that first day, ended up being one of his biggest supporters. The lesson here, the pastor said, is not to quit even when things look bleak.

The poster contest for middle school students was presented by the Mahoning County Juvenile Court Community Advisory Board. Judge Theresa Dellick said she can’t believe the contest has been around for more than a decade and a half.

“Because there is a clear correlation between truancy and delinquency, this contest is designed to make both children and parents better aware of the necessity of staying in school,” Dellick said in adding the 22 students present at the breakfast are not these types. “But it is always nice seeing you once a year.”

The theme of this year’s contest was “My Super Power at School is…”

“The contest allows students to artistically express their thoughts,” Dellick said. “Students have gained confidence from just entering the contest to winning the awards. It has also spurred an interest among family members to continue the tradition of winning.”

Many family members, teachers and school administrators filled the tables for the buffet breakfast and program at the Embassy.

Jenkins told the students, “Your super power at school is you, the one that lies within you.”

The pastor also told the youngsters to beware of bullies at school: “Those are the ones trying to make sure the you in you is never seen!”

The winning entries were judged according to grade level with fifth-through eighth-graders winning first, second and third places plus honorable mentions. Holy Family School in Poland tallied the most awards with seven followed by St. Nicholas School in Struthers with six.

Judges were Becky Keck, president of SMARTS —Students Motivated by the Arts; and Lisa Lotze, Mahoning County Juvenile Court advisory board member. The criteria included effort, message and the artistic quality of the design.

Other sponsors were Denise DeBartolo York and the Farmers National Bank. Radio personalities A.C. McCullough and Kelly Stevens handed out the awards to students.