Four local teens participated in the Council For Drug Free Youth video contest Monday, spreading messages about staying drug free in their own unique way.
Sydney Duenckel, a sophomore at Calvary Lutheran High School, walked away as the first place winner, receiving $250.
Luke Mercurio, a senior at Helias High School, won second place; Sawyer Bohannan, a junior at Jefferson City High School, got third; and Victoria Sherwood, a senior at JCHS, came in fourth place.
The videos may have all had similar messages, but the style and interpretation varied among the four contestants.
Duenkel's video included statistics illustrating how frequently teens experiment with drugs; Mercurio sang a song about staying drug free. Bohannan interviewed his peers, and Sherwood composed a mixed-media piece including statistics, music and pictures.
Melle Richardson, project coordinator at CDFY, said this year's theme took a positive spin on presenting a drug-free message, further promoting it's OK to stay sober and not experiment with drugs.
The videos were viewed by an audience and judged by local celebrities who support CDFY efforts.
Judges consisted of Kyle Loethen, founding board member of Capital City Cinema, Courtney Waters, teen services coordinator at the Missouri River Regional Library, and Andrew Richmond, a representative of Scene One Theater.
"This is a great way for teeneagers to participate in something without being judged," Richmond said. "A lot of times kids can be mean and experience peer pressure, so programs like this are important so their voice can be heard."
In between video presentations, local community leaders spoke about what being drug free meant to them.
"Being drug free means control," said Heather McCreery, CDFY board president.
Mayor Carrie Tergin commended the youth for standing up for what they believe is right and making the decision to be drug free.
Ward 1 City Councilman David Kemma, spoke of personal experiences he had with friends who used drugs and died or were incarcerated. His message to the youth and those present was to be mindful of their choices.
"The choices that you make today impact who you're going to be five years down the road," he said.