Little Haiti – The Little Haiti Cultural Complex was the venue for a recent reception that recognized the award-winning students in a poster contest whose message is peace through art.
Miami Central High School’s Juan Rodriguez and his first-place artwork were joined by four other winning students — Jean Marc Bastien from Design and Architecture Senior High (second place), Manouchka Jean-Noel from Morningside Elementary (third place), Zadina Scott from Morningside Elementary (fourth place), and Kengardy Metellus (fifth place) — of the 2nd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Poster Contest.
The contest showcased a total of 15 entries, from students in grades K-12 at various schools across Miami-Dade, divided into elementary, middle and
high school categories. Rodriguez’ interpretation of Dr. King’s message of peace earned him two tickets to an upcoming Miami Heat vs. New Jersey Nets game. The second- and third-place winners received a family pack of tickets to Jungle Island, while the fourth- and fifth-place winners received a $25 Target gift certificate. All participants received a certificate of appreciation.
“This is bar none, artistic beauty,” said School Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, who presented the contest, along with City of Miami
Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, as a creative way to teach Black History all year long. “Our children are so talented that when we see their entries and presentations of the thoughts and dreams they have within them, it’s magical.”
Bendross-Mindingall also said the contest was a way for the broader public to hear local children’s voices. “What better way to see what they are thinking than through the arts.”
Monestime agreed saying the contest taught a combination of history, culture and confidence.
“If you know your history, you know your culture, and if you know your culture, then you know yourself,” said Monestime during the Feb. 23 reception. “This contest provides our students a chance to understand their history, be creative, think beyond the average and challenge themselves.”
Jean-Claude Bastien and Claudette Bastien beamed with pride over their son, runner-up Jean Marc Bastien. The 18-year-old senior in the Industrial Design Program at Design and Architecture Senior High will attend the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in the fall.
At the end of the evening, Bendross-Mindingall thanked everyone for being present and encouraged them to begin prepping early for next year’s contest.
“Never give up on our children,” she said. “They are our future and the future is now.”
Photo: JAMES FORBES/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
EXAMPLE OF HER SKILL: Artist Manoudieka Lalane with her artwork during the second annual Peace Poster and Awards Reception at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.