By Claudia Mathis
Shawn Dunkel, fifth grader at Blessed Sacrament School in Syracuse, took the challenge last February and won. He entered the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Poster Contest and was awarded first prize for his drawing. He is the first Catholic school student to win the contest.
“I am really proud of Shawn,” said Blessed Sacrament principal Andrea Polcaro.
The D.A.R.E. program was administered by the Syracuse Police Department to Blessed Sacrament’s 27 fifth graders. The officers led the students in a series of classroom lessons that taught them how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.
Polcaro said the D.A.R.E. Poster Contest affords the students the opportunity to express their feelings about what they have learned through the program.
Shawn was inspired by one of his “Learn-to-Draw” books to design a poster that included a school bus drawn like a monster truck with the name “Drug Free Elementary School” written on it. On the bottom of the poster, Shawn wrote, “School Rules and Drugs Drool.”
Shawn said he decided on that design because he thought it would stand out from his classmates’ submissions.
Shawn remembered how he was surprised and happy when he learned that he had won the contest. “My teacher was also very happy,” added Shawn.
“I loved the poster,” said Polcaro. “We were thrilled that he had won and it was so exciting.”
Shawn and his fellow students were especially excited when they learned, due to Shawn’s efforts, that they would be treated to a visit from monster truck driver, Darren Migues.
The winners of the contest, which included students from schools in the Syracuse area, were recognized at a special ceremony at Blessed Sacrament in March. The theme was “Monster Trucks.” It was sponsored by D.A.R.E. and the Monster Truck Rally held in Syracuse.
When Migues arrived at the school with his monster truck, he drove around the parking lot to give the children a show. He then parked the truck and posed for photos with the children while shaking their hands.
“It was really fun,” remembered Shawn. “He was really driving fast.”
An award show was held indoors and Migues awarded each winner a certificate.
When asked what he learned from the experience, Shawn replied, “To always do my personal best.”