SUMMIT, NJ - Summit resident Samra Shakeel of Union County Vocational-Technical High School was awarded second place in this year’s Teen Media Contest in the high school category. The annual statewide contest, run by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, concluded with a ceremony at the State House awarding prizes to three high school students, and three middle school students, for their outstanding artistic achievements.

Samra’s artwork, “The Family Man” was selected from over 150 entries from 18 participating schools throughout the state.

The students'  challenge was to illustrate the way in which “families are greater than the sum of their parts.” This theme encourages students to show how families can make an impact on their neighborhood, their community and their world, regardless of the traditional or non-traditional family structure.

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The contest uses the topic of family to engage high school and middle school students in creative thinking through art. Students, under the guidance of their school’s art faculty, create original handmade artwork to complement the Department’s ongoing advertising and outreach campaign: “Child Support. It’s more than just money.” 

Winners are chosen based upon their interpretation of the year’s theme, with the winning artwork and a select number of “honorable mention” pieces included in the annual Child Support calendar published every year. Last year’s winners and honorable mentions can be viewed online.

“This year’s theme captured the diversity of family structures in New Jersey, while honoring the contributions they make through community service to their neighbors and their world,” said Acting DHS Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly. “This year’s artwork clearly shows the enthusiasm of the students to show how they can make positive contributions to society.”

Winners in the high school category:

- Priyanka Malholtra, Piscataway Township High School, First Place
- Samra Shakeel, Union County Vocational-Technical High School, Second Place
- Third place, Anthony Troiano, Union County Vocational-Technical High School, Third Place
 
Winners in the middle school category:
 
- Sharina Kuo, Carusi Middle School, First Place
- Elizabeth Kamara, Academy 1 Middle School, Second Place
- Rashel Caraballo, Academy 1 Middle School, Third Place

In addition to having their artwork featured in the 2016 calendar, each winner receives a plaque of achievement, an American Express gift card, and a pair of day passes to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. All winning entries will be displayed in the Statehouse Annex Tunnel from May 18 through 22.

“We are amazed, year after year, on how the students internalize the annual theme and create some beautiful artwork. Each of the hundreds of entries we receive each year contain unique illustrations of parents and their children, from all walks of life,” said Natasha Johnson, Division of Family Development Director. 

For more information about this program or the New Jersey Office of Child Support Services, call 1-877-NJKIDS1 or go to www.njchildsupport.org.