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NEW YORK, April 23, 2021 -  The Christophers announces its three top prize winners, in addition to five honorable mentions, today in their 31st 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 all across the United States. As always, students employed a wide range of media in their submissions, from personalized photograph collages to stunningly detailed 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, encompass the widest range of topics yet. From volunteering both at home and abroad, to the blessing of adoption and the importance of embracing your unique abilities to shed positive light into an increasingly darkened world, this year’s poster contest winners have truly gone above and beyond to portray, through the medium of their artwork, what it means to make a difference in action.”

           The first prize is awarded to homeschooled senior hailing from Rockford, Illinois, Alexi Ann Farrell. Farrell’s digital poster is comprised of photographs from various volunteer programs she has participated in over the years, highlighting her work with youngsters who have special needs. In the center of her entry is the encouraging statement, “You can make a difference by embracing ability rather than disability.”

           “In 2017, my vocal coach partnered with an organization called Gigi's Playhouse, a Down syndrome achievement center,” Alexi explained in a personal e-mail to The Christophers, “to put on a performance led by individuals with Down syndrome. I was asked to assist in directing, as well as mentoring the students who wished to participate, and I fell in love with the work.”

           “Although I am still uncertain of what my major will be in college, my goal once I graduate is to be able to make a difference in their community, and be able to advocate for them,” Farrell continued. “In the world today, people are so quick to judge individuals with special needs, and focus on the things that they may be unable to do.”

“Embracing their abilities instead of their disabilities,” Alexi concluded, echoing her poster’s message, “not only gives them confidence, but also helps change society’s view of people with special needs.” 

           Second prize winner and high school senior Imani Victoria Tornes, who is also homeschooled in Fayetteville, GA, similarly realizes the importance of helping young people realize their full potential at an early age. Tornes embraces her role as mentor by sharing both a passion and talent she inherited from her mother, namely, dancing. To that end, Imani’s poster features a colored photograph of herself, in a place where she is very much at home—with several young girls in her mother’s dance studio. In the picture, dance instructor Tornes is in the process of correcting one of her students’ postures. Beneath the photograph are four brown silhouettes of twirling ballerinas, with light blue flowers budding along the bottom and top right corner, which make a striking contrast against the beige background of the poster. The caption of this entry reads as follows: “You can make a difference, by teaching children to move to the beat of their own drum.”

           “I am proud to have embarked on the journey of teaching,” Imani declared in a private message to The Christophers. “I have acquired the knowledge that I need to know to work with children, and provide a safe environment where they can be themselves, and heighten their dance education. Additionally, I've had the opportunity to give back by volunteering to teach outreach classes within my community.”

           “My interest in dance began with my mother,” Imani concluded, “who is a professional dancer and instructor. My siblings and I followed in her footsteps by training in dance, starting as young as five-years-old. When I was thirteen-years-old, I realized that dance has influenced me in an uplifting way, and without dance, I wouldn't be who I am today... I want to make a difference by teaching children that it is okay to be their authentic selves, and that dance can bring us together.”

           Third prize winner Cecilia Minard, a senior at Marietta High School in Marietta, OH, continues along the theme of finding common ground, no matter your outward differences, in her prize-winning, hand-painted poster entry. Minard’s fantastical canvas portrait depicts two sides of a wooded scene. On one side of the poster is a tree in full bloom against a sunny blue background, in spite of the numerous drops of rain falling thickly from the sky. The other side displays a tree identical in every way to its neighbor, except for the fact that it is shadowed in darkness. Mushrooms and sprigs of lavender sprout along the muddy bottom of this portrait, while white mountain peaks rise in the distance behind the two trees. From the brighter side of this painting, a dark-skinned fairy, outfitted in a green and yellow leaf dress, holds a red and white spotted mushroom above a green and white speckled toad seated in the shadier area of this landscape, thereby helping to shield him from the rain. Printed above these two figures are the words, “You can make a difference, no matter how small.”

           “To me,” Cecilia interpreted in an e-mail to The Christophers, “my painting means no matter how small you feel or how small your act of kindness is, it can make all the difference to someone else. This is represented in the small woodland creatures. The trees…tower above them, but still the fairy shows kindness to the toad [who is even tinier in stature than she is] by handing him a mushroom umbrella.”

           “It's really a reminder,” Minard summarized thoughtfully, “to continue to do small acts of kindness, even if you feel no one cares or is watching, because “you can make a difference, no matter how small.” 

           This past year in particular, a year of isolation and uncertainty for many, the far-reaching impact that even the smallest acts of generosity can make, both seen and unseen, truly resonate with us, now more than ever. We 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 Prize-Alexi Ann Farrell
 hallstrom Homeschool Workshops in Rockford, IL
 
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 2nd Prize-Imani Victoria Tornes 
 Homeschooled at Reigning Victoria Academy in Fayetteville, GA
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 3rd Prize - Cecilia MinarD 
 Marietta High School in Marietta, OH
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 HONORABLE MENTIONS 

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4

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Honorable Mentions

  1. Tyler Brewer-Lake Country Lutheran High School in Hartland, WI

  2. Nicole Nedeff-Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami, FL

  3. Mason D. Paul-F.J. Reitz High School in Evansville, IN

  4. Mustapha Salau-Parkland High School in Allentown, PA

  5. Ellie Stephens-Westville High School in Portland, OR

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