NEW YORK CNS – A Florida high school senior took first place in the Christophers' annual poster contest for high school students and a math major at Southern New Hampshire University who is just 16 years old won the top honor in the organization's annual video contest for college students.

The Christophers is a New York-based organization that uses print and broadcast media to further the Judeo-Christian concept of service to God and humanity.

A June 27 news release said the organization received nearly 500 entries from across the United States for its 32nd annual poster contest.

Students in grades nine through 12 were invited to create a poster using a wide range of media from personalized photograph collages to highly detailed paintings to interpret the theme, "You Can Make a Difference."

Close to 100 entries from throughout the United States came in for the Christophers the 34th annual video contest. College students could enter a film or video that communicates the belief that one person can make a difference.

The poster contest's first-prize winner was Camila Escobar, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who depicts herself as a young toddler in her black-and-white hand-drawn portrait.

In the poster, young Escobar is being helped to walk by a man whose face is hidden but whom Escobar revealed in a note to the Christophers was her late grandfather. The caption of her submission reads, "No matter how small, you can make a difference."

"My grandfather (was) always very present in my life," Escobar wrote, "from my very first steps to his last. He always told me that I impacted his life, and reminded him of his youth, which is why I wanted to use this for the theme 'anyone can make a difference.' Despite being so young while he was alive, I know I made a difference in his life."

Escobar will be minoring in art and design at the University of Michigan next fall and the prize money will go toward her education.


Second-prize winner senior Conyae Cherry, a senior at Central High School Louisville, Kentucky, emphasized the value of education in a young person's life in her poster. A photograph shows Cherry reading to children at a Louisville YMCA. Written across the top and bottom of the poster are the words, "You can make a difference ... starting with the power of knowledge."

The third prize went to John Devereux, a senior at Kennard-Dale High School in Grove, Pennsylvania, who takes a more personal approach in his poster, featuring a photograph of himself and his grandmother, sitting in a wheelchair and glowing with joy as she leans against her smiling grandson.

The caption says, "The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. You can make a difference."

Devereux said, "Although she was in a nursing with dementia, I realized that sometimes the intangible gifts we give to others can make more of an impact. With the older population, time is very important and it is a simple thing to give."

The first-prize winner was 16-year-old Ella Stone of Lewisville, Texas, who titled her film, "One Person Can Make an Exponential Impact." In it Stone recalled how even as early as second grade, her teachers knew she was advanced academically and would often ask her to assist fellow classmates with their schoolwork.

During high school, she earned 88 college credits, and will earn her bachelor's in mathematics by 17 at Southern New Hampshire University and her master's in teaching at 19.

"God's love for me compels me to love others," she says in her video. "During the pandemic as many struggled, hit hardest were refugee students. I use translation software to promote tutoring in 12 languages."

"Tutoring refugee students is a humbling opportunity to use my gifts," she adds, "and I am grateful for the technologies that allow me to connect with my students."

Second-prize winner Aidan O'Neill of Chicopee, Massachusetts, a Westfield State University communications major, uses his gifts to help people who face a different kind of barrier in their everyday lives, as he described in his film, "One Person-Big Difference." His video centers on his involvement with the Special Olympics in his hometown.

"Ever since I was a freshman in high school," Aidan recalls in the video, "I have worked alongside my family and friends in the Greater Springfield Special Olympics, which provides opportunities for children and adults with mental or physical disabilities. I support them as a 'unified athlete' – an athlete who gives support and guidance to others as well as competing alongside them in the same sport."

"It's helped me realize we are all the same in our hearts, talent and enjoyment of success and accomplishment of victory in sports," he says

Winning third prize for her video "Kindness Makes a Difference" was Noell Komar of Chandler, Arizona. She depicted how even the smallest gesture of goodwill can have a positive impact on someone who truly needs it.

A film major at Arizona State University, she opens the video with black-and-white footage highlighting different young people struggling during their daily routines at college.

From a distance, several different students observe these people in need. As soon as each student makes the decision to help their peers, the video switches to a colorized format, and the instrumental background music subsequently picks up tempo as well.

Komar's short video ends with a quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca: "Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness."

Editor's Note: The winning videos and posters can be viewed at www.Christophers.org and click on "Youth."