DENVILLE, NJ – A student attending Morris County School of Technology in Denville was one of 14 high school and middle school students from across the state honored Wednesday for their entries in an art contest sponsored by the state Department of Human Services (DHS).

The freshman student, Harsh Patel, will join other winners in having his artwork featured in the DHS’s annual child support calendar, receiving a plaque of achievement, being given an American Express gift card and getting a pair of day passes to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.  His work will also be displayed in the Statehouse Annex Tunnel from May 22 to May 24.

Patel, who plays baseball for Morris Tech, was honored for his entry in the 2017 Teen Media Contest, “which celebrated the students’ artistic portrayal of a favorite weekend memory with their family,” said DHS in a statement.

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“The contest uses the topic of family to engage high school and middle school students in creative thinking through art and the written word,” said the state. “Students, under the guidance of their school’s art and writing/language faculty, created original hand-made and digital/computer-generated artwork, as well as written works that reflect the contest theme and the Department’s ongoing advertising and outreach campaign: “Child Support. It’s more than just money.”  Winners were chosen based upon their interpretation of the year’s theme, with the winning art and written pieces and a select number of “honorable mention” pieces featured in the annual Child Support calendar published every year.”

DHS Acting Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly said, “We are continually amazed at the caliber of the artwork entries we receive each year for the contest. In 2017, we wanted to tap into other areas of the arts and writing in order to capitalize on the talent and creativity of our state’s middle and high school students. Whether it was a piece of artwork, a digital photo or even rap lyrics, this year’s winning works clearly show the imagination, ingenuity and enthusiasm of the students in demonstrating how their families enjoy one another.”

New for 2017 was the addition of written work and digital/computer-generated artwork categories to the established handmade artwork, DHS said. The new categories allowed a new segment of students to participate and brought a surge in contest entries, it noted. “The theme gave the students the chance to show the good times they have had with their family, despite any rough and challenging times they have faced,” DHS said.