Jackson Middle School students’ drug awareness artwork wins state contest

Image Provided Jackson Middle School student Connor Gribble’s regional winning entry in the West Virginia Attorney General Office’s Kids Kick Opioids contest.

VIENNA — For Connor Gribble, the idea was sparked by a TV commercial.

For Olivia Perkins, inspiration came from thinking about the impact on kids like her.

The Jackson Middle School seventh-graders are among 56 West Virginia students whose work warning of the dangers of opioid abuse will soon be displayed in the state Capitol.

“That’s a really cool feeling,” Perkins said.

Gribble and Perkins were selected as regional winners in the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office’s third annual Kids Kick Opioids contest. They were joined in the Mid-Ohio Valley region by Tyler Consolidated Middle School’s Kaylee Haught and Wahama Junior/Senior High School students Hallie Kearns and Olivia Jeffers.

Image Provided Jackson Middle School student Olivia Perkins’ regional winning entry in the West Virginia Attorney General Office’s Kids Kick Opioids contest.

Gribble and Perkins were assigned to do their projects in Cherish George’s career enrichment class.

Perkins said she considered several ideas before settling on her entry — a map of West Virginia with different areas color-coded to show opioid death statistics. Beyond the numbers, she said, she was struck by the thought of children losing their parents or parents losing kids to drug overdoses and abuse.

“That really broke my heart because I don’t know what it would be like if my parents were taken away from me because of drugs,” Perkins said. “It’s awful what drugs are doing to people nowadays.”

Gribble said he had in mind early on to draw a person with a bottle of pills thinking about potential outcomes. A commercial, unrelated to drug abuse, featuring the familiar trope of an angel and devil on someone’s shoulders gave him an idea on how to flesh it out.

“I had a general plan, but once I got done with that I thought of more things I could add to make it better,” Gribble said.

Image Provided Tyler Consolidated Middle School student Kaylee Haught’s regional winning entry in the West Virginia Attorney General Office’s Kids Kick Opioids contest.

In a press release announcing the regional winners, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey praised the talent of the kids who entered.

“The entries underscore the impact of the opioid epidemic on our young students,” he said. “They are growing up in a time when drug abuse runs rampant. Our hope is their artwork will bring about greater awareness and a renewed commitment to change.”

There were 3,420 entries — including drawings, poems and other designs — submitted by a total of 3,422 students at 96 middle and elementary schools around the state, the release says.

The statewide winner and runners up will be announced soon, with the winning entry to appear in newspapers around the state as part of a public service announcement by the Attorney General’s Office.