Quaran-TEEN-ed: Apart But Not Alone Contest Winners Announced

Overall Statewide

  • First Place – Naylani Burton – Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology
  • Runner Up – Cassidy Kole – North Hunterdon High school

Northern Region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren):

  • Rossana Lopez – Fort Lee High School
  • Amanda Gelber – Wayne Hills High School

Central Region (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union):

  • Jasmin Langomas – Carteret High School
  • Akhil Arularasu – Bridgewater-Raritan High School

Southern Region (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem):

  • Hina Patel – Atlantic County Institute of Technology
  • Cameron Waligore – Clayton High School

A total of 250 entries were received from high school students throughout New Jersey in the statewide Quaran-TEEN-ed: Apart but Not Alone contest. The contest took place in May in support of Mental Health Awareness Month.  Students were invited to submit an original Public Service Announcement using graphic art, writing or video, highlighting positive coping strategies during the quarantine and promoting the 2nd Floor Youth  Helpline of New Jersey.

Winners were selected by Four-Time Olympian and Author, Joetta, Spokeswoman for EmPoWER Somerset who served as a celebrity judge for the contest.  The winners were announced on June 8, 2020, in a video message from Joetta.

The statewide winner was Naylani Burton of Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology for her video “Quaran-teen-ed PSA” and statewide runner up was Cassidy Kole of North Hunterdon High School for her original song “Better for the World Right Now.”

Six students were also honored as regional winners and runners up representing the northern, central and southern regions of the state.  The Northern regional winner was Rossanna Lopez of Fort Lee High School for her original poem “Roles” and runner up was Amanda Gelber of Wayne Hills High School for her original poem “A Helpline Away.”

In the central region, first place went to Jasmine Langomas of Carteret High School for her original poem “The New Reality” and runner up went to Akhil Arularasu of Bridgewater-Raritan High School for his original video “Staying Positive During COVID-19.”

In the southern region, Hina Patel of Atlantic County Institute of Technology was selected as the winner for her original video “Stop and Listen” and Cameron Waligore of Clayton High School was selected as runner up for her original poster “Being a Teen in Quarantine.”

“We were so inspired by all of the creative and imaginative entries, and by the many positive ways that teens across New Jersey are coping with this unusual time that none of us were expecting,” said Joetta.

“It was a difficult decision for our contest judges to narrow down and select the winners from such a wide pool of excellent entries. I want to congratulate each one of you for your creativity, for your perseverance and inner strength that shined through in your entries.”

The statewide winner received a top prize of $400 and the statewide runner up received a prize of $150. The three regional winners each received $200 and the three regional runners up received $100.

Kristen Schiro, Director of Health and Wellness at Empower Somerset said, “Everyone’s sense of normal has been interrupted by COVID-19, and this contest is about understanding the teen’s perspective.  Through this contest, we wanted to empower high school students to share peer-to-peer messages of hope and support to remind them that they are truly not alone during this time of social distancing.”

This contest was made possible with funding from the New Jersey Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Health Program, Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.

It was a collaborative effort of three regional partners, Center for Prevention and Counseling in North Jersey, Empower Somerset in Central Jersey and AtlantiCare in South Jersey.