Mercer County fourth-grader wins state contest

Photo provided The winning design by Blake Pacitto, a student at the Lashmeet-Matoaka Elementary School.

CHARLESTON — State officials hope a fourth-grader’s design will convince West Virginians to think twice before abusing prescription painkillers.

Blake Pacitto of Mercer County, a student at the Lashmeet-Matoaka Elementary School, won Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Kids Kick Opioids contest with his illustration of how opioid abuse threatens all aspects of the user’s life. The design will appear in newspapers across the state.

Blake’s winning design explains the pervasive impact of opioid abuse, specifically in affecting the user’s employment, home life and time spent with loved ones. It also warns that opioid abuse could ultimately lead to prison or death.

“Blake’s simple design speaks volumes,” Morrisey said. “It underscores, in the simplest of terms, how getting hooked on opioid drugs can ruin every aspect of one’s life. I hope everyone in our state will take note of Blake’s message because prevention is key to stopping senseless death.”

Blake represents Lashmeet/Matoaka Elementary School. His entry was among 2,087 received from 2,300 students. The submissions came from 70 middle and elementary schools across West Virginia and included a mix of drawings, poems and other designs aimed at promoting awareness.

The contest has generated more than 4,000 entries since its inception.

Blake’s design and that of the statewide runner-up, Nevaeh Premo of Rivesville Elementary/Middle School, can be viewed at

The West Virginia State Medical Association, West Virginia Association of School Nurses and the Capitol Police assisted the attorney general in judging the public service announcement contest.