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"You can make a difference"



NEW YORK, May 4th, 2023 - The Christophers announces its three top prize winners, in addition to four honorable mentions, today in their 33rd Annual Poster Contest for High School Students.      

            Every year, students – grades 9 through 12 – are invited to create a poster that visually interprets the timeless theme, “You Can Make a Difference.” This year’s contest drew close to 500 entries from high schools from all across the United States. As always, students employed a wide range of media in their submissions, from personalized photograph collages to amazingly detailed oil paintings. Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, and Sarah E. Holinski, The Christophers’ Youth Coordinator, observed, “Our winning poster entries this year, both digital and hand-created, continue to highlight some truly exceptional individuals who go above and beyond to make a difference. Above all, this year’s winners convey the importance of reaching out to others in a variety of ways, whether through music, reading, or sign language, to name a few. No matter the means of communication, one underlying truth remains—the language of love is universal.”

            First prize winner and Wylie E. Groves high school senior Lea Milanini would heartily concur with this last statement. A talented violinist who began playing at five years of age, Michigan native Milanini cites the violin as a key “constant” in her life, adding it has always “shown her the light of the world, even when she felt “surrounded by darkness.” This would certainly explain the layout of her poster, a black and white photograph of an outdoor landscape, featuring Lea holding her instrument with one hand, and pointing it up towards the sky. A burst of light is shown blooming from the neck of the violin, along with a large heart outlined in yellow. The caption of the picture reads, “You Can Make a Difference…Let Your Heart Lead the Way.”

            “Inside the heart is a depiction of one of my favorite memories with my violin,” Melanini wrote in an email to the Christophers, “playing it for kids in Brazil. Because, indeed, when I self-organized a humanitarian trip to Brazil last summer, I had to bring my dear violin with me! It was lovely to witness the children’s smiles as they saw me…in performances, and as they were able to try my instrument; most of them had never seen one like that before! To them as well, the violin was a beacon of light in their lives.”

            “In life,” Lea concluded thoughtfully, “you sometimes have to stop overthinking, and just let your heart lead the way to the path of love…One way to let your ‘heart lead the way’ is through music. Music has the power to unite people, even when they do not speak the same language or…grow up with the same cultures… This is how…I made the biggest difference…It all came from my heart.”

            Our second prize-winning poster is another photograph portraying a similarly heartwarming gesture—several high school students kneeling in a cemetery assembling green and red Christmas wreaths to place on the corresponding graves in front of them. The message of the poster reminds its viewers, “You can make a difference…together with kindness.” Submitted by Ridgepoint High School sophomore Hannah Macbeth, this picture emphasizes the importance of honoring those who came before us, and working hard to ensure their remarkable lives and memories are never forgotten.

            The charitable work of one of the two third prize winners, Anastasia Griesbauer, also speaks to the significance of remembering the older generation we are still fortunate enough to have with us, as shown in a collage of pictures depicting both younger volunteers and older nursing home residents. Written between these photographs are the words, “You Can Make a Difference…Caring for the Elderly.” Homeschooled high school senior Griesbauer said the idea for this initiative came to her five years ago, when she started volunteering at a local nursing home in Troy, Missouri.

           “This was my first exposure to nursing homes,” Griesbauer explained in an essay to the Christophers, “and I learned so much from my time spent there…As I reflected on my experiences with the old folks, I was inspired to do more for them. I wanted to make a difference in their lives.”
           “My church had a ministry of caring for new babies by collecting donations of baby items and giving out Christmas baskets to the moms at…maternity home[s],” Anastasia continued.  “I imagined creating a program that also donated…Easter baskets for the seniors in nursing homes. I…called my idea ‘Project Elderly.’  On a momentous day in 2019…I introduced Project Elderly to my church.”

           “Over several weeks,” Griesbauer recalled, “I collected and sorted donations…I corresponded with the nursing home…With the help of family and volunteers, I wrote messages in Easter cards, and assembled 114 Easter baskets.  The next day, we distributed the Easter baskets to the residents, who were overjoyed…to receive them.”

           “This joyful ministry is in its fifth year,” Anastasia noted, “and it will continue in the future… Since its inception, Project Elderly has expanded and reached over a thousand seniors in six different nursing homes…  My passion for making a difference does not end with…Project Elderly…I will continue to…work with the elderly, making sure they have the care that they deserve…I want to help the undervalued, the forgotten…I want...every person to know that they are not alone…that they are loved.” 

           Helping those who are frequently overlooked dovetails nicely into our other third prize winner Madison Nguyen’s poster, another picture which shows two students looking cheerfully at the camera while signing with their right hands. Written across the photograph are the words, “Spread Love through Language…You Can Make a Difference.”

           “The picture on the poster is of me and my friend at a language competition where we specialized in American Sign Language,” Ridge Point high school senior Madison Nguyen explained in a message to the Christophers. “I used this photo because I feel…society as a whole could be bridged together, despite their differences through language…learning American Sign Language opened up a new perspective into my life…I can better communicate with others.”

           “With the meaningful words on the poster, ‘spread love through language,’’ Nguyen summarized, “I wanted to make it apparent though there is much hate and oftentimes sadness that comes along with being ‘different,’ that we should all embrace our differences, whether they be language, or any other kind of barriers, and utilize them to love one another.” 

           Truly wise words for us to live by—may we all strive to discover, along with this year’s poster contest winners, that with open minds, helping hands and loving hearts, we can break down any negative barrier that seeks to divide us. We at the Christophers offer our heartfelt appreciation to all the applicants who worked so hard on their artistic portrayals, and the teachers who inspire them every day to “make a difference.”  


A non-profit organization founded in 1945, The Christophers uses mass media to encourage all individuals to make a positive difference in the world, as expressed in the Christopher motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

1st place
1st Prize
Lea Milanini
Wylie E. Groves High School
Beverly Hills, MI 48035
Lea Milanini-First Prize Winner-Poster Contest 2023.jpg
2nd place
2nd PrizE
Hannah Macbeth
Ridge Point High SchooL
Missouri City, TX 77459
Hannah Macbeth-Second Prize WInner-Poster Contest 2023.jpg
3rd place
3rd Prize (Tie)
Anastasia Griesbauer
Troy, MO 63379
3rd Prize (Tie)
Madison Nguyen
Ridge Point High School
Missouri City, TX 77459

Honorable Mentions

  1. Julia Davis-George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology-Baltimore, MD

  2. Daniel Caleb Dowd- Waubonsie Valley High School-Aurora, IL

  3. Nakeia Jones-Conway High School-Conway, AR

  4. Aaron Spann- William P. Clements High School-Sugarland, TX

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