By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

The logo depicting a mother’s profile supporting the outline of an infant was the clear winner of the diocesan Respect Life Ministry’s Loving Life 2015 logo contest.

After an online vote taking place Dec. 9-31, the results were in: the winner was Kerry Bates, a 9th-grader at Red Back Catholic High School, Red Bank. The announcement was made Jan. 5 by the Respect Life Ministry in the diocesan Department of Pastoral Care, which sponsors the contest. Bates lives in Belford, and is a parishioner of St. Mary Parish, Middletown.

“I got really excited when I found out,” Bates said. She was encouraged to enter the contest, along with the rest of her religion class, by RBC religion teacher Maureen Regan.

Bates, who is not currently enrolled in art classes, still enjoys art as a pastime. “Sometimes I draw, so I thought it would be a good idea to enter,” she explained. Her logo was hand drawn with black marker; Bates also uses pencil and colored pencils when she draws.

As designer of the logo with the greatest number of votes, Bates won an Apple Macbook. “I was really surprised they picked that as a prize!” said Bates.

Regan, who heard about the logo contest in her church bulletin, brought the contest information to school and presented copies to her classes. She referenced the contest rules on the diocesan website, and made them available to an enthusiastic group of students, of whom several ended up entering. Regan believes respect for life is prevalent among the RBC student body.

“Kindness, respect for life and each other is a way that all the students act here,” explained Regan, who joined RBC as religion teacher this school year. “They’re really great kids.”

Vice principal Karen Falco, who supervises the academic responsibilities of the school, echoed Regan’s assessment.

“Respecting all human life and respect for the individual is at the heart of our mission statement, so it’s really validating when our students are recognized for that,” Falco said, further noting that this respect is really an academic goal for RBC. “You always feel good when your kids do well.”

School spirit and support for Bates fueled the student and parent voting. And it certainly worked.

“I will tell you, Red Bank Catholic has a TON of school pride!” Regan said. “I was just excited that [Bates] participated, and I’m glad the students and parents of students were so excited to vote for Kerry to win.”

The contest’s purpose is to raise awareness among high school students about respect for God’s precious gift: life itself. The contest accepted entries from Catholic and public high school students throughout the four counties of the Diocese. Bates’ logo will be used in association with all diocesan functions related to respect for life throughout the 2015 calendar year.

Education about life issues isn’t limited to religion classes at RBC, Regan explained.

“All the RBC teachers as a whole try to instill in the students how important life issues are,” she said. One morning she was given a poster for her classroom designed by the RBC art class students, depicting the word “peace” in many different languages – a project that combined an important message with the use of various art skills. “We really try to do a lot of cross-curricular activities, and incorporate religion into all different subjects,” Regan continued.

While Bates doesn’t have any plans to make a career of art, she is happy to have used her talent to participate in this year’s contest, and truly believes what she says her logo represents: how a mother’s care can help a baby, and how important it is to care for that child, whether it has been born or is still in the womb.

“I think it’s important to bring awareness to life issues – how people think more on death than on life, and that abortion is a terrible thing,” Bates said.