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Weehawken students win NJ Elks video contest

Weehawken students won the top prize in a statewide anti-drug video contest run by the Elks.

Two Weehawken High School students won first place in the New Jersey Elks Drug Awareness Video Contest.

The contest, hosted by the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, takes place annually for pre-high school and high school students across the state. As part of the Elk’s commitment to eliminating illegal drug use nationwide, The Elks National Drug Awareness Program holds an annual series of poster, essay, and video contests.

The contests for students help raise community awareness of the problem of drug abuse.

The theme for this year’s contest was “Life does not rewind, choose life not drugs.” Two best friends, seventh graders, from Weehawken High School, took home the gold as a result. (Weehawken middle-schoolers attend the high school.)

Lauren Varela and Astrid Taffarello’s video submission landed them a first place victory in the Drug Awareness Video Contest.

Drugs and friends, not happy together

Titled “Best Friends Forever?,” their video is about how teenage drug addiction can impact friendships.

“As best friends, we love making videos and iMovies together all the time,” Lauren said. “So when we heard there was a video contest on an important subject, we jumped at the chance to test our skills. We wanted to show that drugs will ruin your life, and that you can’t get back what you have lost.”

Their video impressed competition judges and their teachers.

The students were advised by WHS broadcast journalism teacher Peter Flores and WHS English teacher and peer leadership adviser Christine Mantineo who applauded their work. Weehawken Township School District Assistant Superintendent Francesca Amato also praised the students’ video after reviewing their submission.

“I am so proud of the students’ work on this video,” Amato said. “I found the writing, acting, and production to be so professional.”

First the video was entered into the District Competition by the local Elks lodge. After winning at the district level, the girls’ video headed into the State Competition where the Elks State Drug Awareness Chairman declared them the victors.

After winning in New Jersey, Lauren and Astrid’s video is now representing the state in the national competition.

Videos submitted to the national competition are currently under review. The winning video will be posted and featured on the Elk’s website at elkskidszone.org and may be included in future Drug Awareness Program publications.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.