Young Vets artists design Rocky Point 5k mile markers

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Mark your calendars, the annual Rocky Point 5k will be held on June 25.

Like any race, there will be mile markers. But these mile markers are unique to Warwick students. For the past four years the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the 5k, has held a competition at Vets High School where students submit designs to be chosen as the mile marking posters.

Lauren Slocum, chamber president, was excited to work with Vets.

“It’s a great way to be able to show off the students’ work and encourage the arts,” she said Tuesday.

Students submit original artwork for the signs marking each of the three miles in the 5k. There is also a $100 prize for each winner, which Slocum hopes will be used for art supplies or furthering their education.

The actions of the Chamber in both the race and this competition, Slocum said, “are designed to bring people together.”

Part of this is reaching out to the local businesses and the community. The 5k shirts with the signature park lobster, for example, were designed by Frank Galasso, a judge at the event but also a syndicated sports and editorial cartoonist from Rhode Island. As an artist, Galasso did similar competitions growing up.

“A long time ago, I was on that side. I feel funny judging,” he said. “It’s great. They’re all really good.”

Karen Larson, a parent and art teacher at Vets, helped coordinate the competition, putting up posters and reaching out to students who might be interested.

“The money was incentive,” she said. She’s been involved with this since it started, but this year, she said it’s “good for moral since the school’s closing.”

Seventeen students ended up submitting designs to her, but only three could win. To narrow down the candidates, Slocum “takes people from businesses and the community. The [Chamber’s] staff does not judge.”

These community judges included John Howell, Karen Jedson, Elizabeth Dunton, Vets Assistant Principal Tim Kane, artist Frank Galasso, Jonathan Pratt, Beverly Levitt-Narciso and Principal Gerry Habershaw. Once they narrowed the selections down to five, a discussion began before the final three were chosen. Judges considered which ones were visually appealing but also fit the criteria the most.

“There’re some that are aesthetically pleasing, but it doesn’t necessarily convey the race aspects they’re looking for,” said Pratt. Chuckling, he continued, “could I do any of these? Probably not.”

Some of the designs may have been visually attractive, the judges realized, but they also had to be appropriate as a sign in the 5k.

After careful consideration, the winners were announced junior Corinne Gregoire, sophomore Shayne Walsh and sophomore Nathanael “Pham” Santagata. All three want to be graphic designers. Gregoire even hopes to study art at the Pratt Institute in New York.

Larson proudly stated that Santagata has recently published two cartoons in the Providence Journal. Larson also said that Santagata is in talks to potentially illustrate a children’s book.

As the checks were handed to the winners, Principal Habershaw jokingly said, “Most artists have to die before they make money, but you’re professional artists now.”

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