Fourth graders from same classroom take 1st, 2nd and 3rd places

FREEHOLD, NJ – When judges picked the winners of this year’s “My County Poster Contest,” they were surprised to learn they all are from the same school, St. Rose of Lima in Freehold.

“We did the judging blind; we didn’t know what schools they were from,” said Monmouth County Surrogate Rosemarie D. Peters, who along with County Clerk M. Claire French and Freeholder Lillian G. Burry presented first,- second- and third-place winners with certificates of achievement at the June 9 Board of Chosen Freeholders’ meeting. “Not only were they from the same school, they were all from the same class and they all have the same teacher.”

The poster contest was sponsored by the Constitutional Officers’ Association of New Jersey. French, Peters and Sheriff Shaun Golden are constitutional officers. Nine schools participated in the contest, submitting 175 entries to be judged on theme, supporting detail and graphic or visual presentation.

French and Peters also recognized and congratulated fourth-grade teacher Patricia Natale at the St. Rose of Lima School. “Seeing these results, unplanned and totally unbiased, is a testament to the skill of that teacher in inspiring and motivating her students,” Peters said. “She helped them understand what we were looking for … and these three posters incorporated all of those components.”

“This poster contest helps fourth graders gain an understanding of what county government is and the services it provides,” French said. “Students were asked to depict something special and unique about Monmouth County, and these young artists did just that.”

First-place winner was Nicholas Cabrera, whose poster depicted a tree with apples. Each of the apples represented a different service or function of county government. Nicholas was awarded a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and his poster will be displayed in the Clerk’s Office in July. “The tree shows how we are all united and make Monmouth County what it is today,” Nicholas said.

Second-place winner was Joseph Gerber, whose poster portrayed a dream about the Battle of Monmouth, presented as a comic strip. Joseph was awarded a $75 U.S. Savings Bond and his poster will be displayed in the Clerk’s Office in August. “I like doing comics in my spare time and I like the Battle of Monmouth, so I thought bringing history into my artwork would be a good idea,” Joseph said.

Third-place winner Joseph Vagnone’s poster depicted county workers – one wearing a suit and holding a briefcase, and others with a hammer and other tools. Joseph was awarded a $50 U.S. Savings Bond and his poster will be on display at the Clerk’s Office in August. “I came up with white collar people who work in offices, and blue collar workers who build stuff and green collar workers who protect the earth and make things like solar panels.”

Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, who handed out certificates of achievement to the boys, commented on the details of their artwork.

“I got a big kick out of these posters,” Burry said. “They had golf in there, the libraries and history. The quality of their work and the concept and design are just magnificent.”

The contest was held in April to commemorate National County Government Month. Association members in each of the New Jersey’s 21 counties will select a winning poster from the entries in their county. All posters become the property of the Constitutional Officers Association and the County of Monmouth. Selected posters may also appear on a published calendar.