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Draper Journal

St. John the Baptist Student Continues Winning Tradition

Dec 07, 2015 10:22AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Christine Young

Intermountain Catholic

Garrett George, a freshman at Juan Diego Catholic High School, took first place at the international level of the Knights of Columbus alcohol and substance abuse prevention poster contest in the alcohol abuse category in the 12- to 14-year-old age group.

He entered his winning poster last year, prior to graduating from Saint John the Baptist Middle School.

George is the latest SJB Middle School student to win international honors in the Knights of Columbus poster contest. In 2012 seventh-grader Perri Cook placed first in the substance abuse category and eighth-grader Vincent Nguyen placed second in the alcohol abuse category.

The Knights of Columbus is an international Catholic fraternity that offers the contest to students throughout the world in Catholic schools and religious education classes. The contest has two subject categories, drug abuse and alcohol abuse, and two age groups, 10- to 11-year-olds and 12- to 14-year-olds. Four winners are selected, one from each age group in each category, said Tom Giron, Utah Knights of Columbus state poster chairman.

Last fall, as an eighth-grader at SJB Middle School, George won the school competition and received $50. He won another $50 for first place at the state competition. His poster then was submitted for the international competition, where he competed against other students from 77 Knights of Columbus districts, Giron said. 

The theme of George’s poster was “There is sadness in every bottle.”

Before her students create posters for the contest, SJB art teacher Annie Lemings explains how serious drug and alcohol abuse are, and she reads survival or memorial stories to them from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, she said.

“It’s OK for the younger kids to make rhymes or funny pictures, but for the middle school kids, I stress that this is a real-life problem,” Lemings said. “We are trying to speak to people who might have a problem with drugs, or are starting to get involved with drugs or alcohol that need to take it seriously.” 

When George started thinking about the issue, he recalled hearing that his great-grandfather had been an alcoholic and when he drank he became violent, George said. “It created difficulties for my grandfather, and because of what it did to his father my grandfather never drank alcohol,” said George. “That made me think about this project and what it really means to people and how it can really affect someone.” 

While doing a social service project in the community to earn service hours for the Sacrament of Confirmation, George witnessed the effects of alcohol and drug abuse and how it can impact families, he said. 

“As a class, we went to the Road Home in Midvale to entertain the children by doing arts and crafts; we made Christmas cards with the kids and interacted with the people there,” George said. “To get the area where the children were, we had to walk through where the people were staying. Seeing the people and the results of the patents’ circumstances or poor choices was sad. Hearing what the kids wanted for Christmas or their birthday was hard; we were there trying to entertain them and bring them joy.”

George realized that the lives of those in the shelter were quite different from his own, he said. “We are privileged and they are living with practically nothing.”

Art is one of George’s favorite subjects, he said. 

“I think it was nice to see Garrett explore his talent in art,” said his mother, Barbara George. “We have a lot of art in our family; his older sister, Madeline, and his paternal grandmother are artists. The whole message of this campaign and the impact of peer pressure on drugs and alcohol as these kids get older makes this project that much more important.”