CCHS Sophomore Wins Billboard Design Contest

high school student is interviewed by the media standing in front of her winning billboard
CCHS sophomore Erica Coleman is interviewed by the local media standing in front of her winning billboard design on New Karner Road in Colonie.

Congratulations to sophomore Erica Coleman this year’s winner in the annual billboard design contest for Colonie Central High School digital art students. Her winning billboard was unveiled today in front of local media, her family and classmates on Route 155 (New Karner Road) just south of Central Avenue.

As in the past years, students in CCHS’ digital art courses worked in conjunction with Lamar Advertising to create a public service announcement billboard which will be on display in the community for a least a month. This year students learned more about the opioid crisis by having guest speakers, reading articles, watching videos and doing independent research.  After much brainstorming and digital rendering on that theme, some 80 student billboards were created and submitted to Lamar for judging. 

Coleman’s winning billboard was chosen by Lamar employees in one of the closest finishes ever, said a Lamar spokesman.

“I was really surprised,” Coleman said. “There were so many good designs that when I heard my name I thought, ‘No Way!'”

Her black and white design features a picture of a young man distraught with his head in his hands and the slogan: “Be Smart Don’t Start … Opioid Addiction Kills.”

More than 28,000 motorists pass by that billboard each day. Coleman said the message is personal because she has a friend who suffers from opioid abuse “and I hope my message can prevent that from happening to other people.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 100 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses and 11.5 million people misuse prescription drugs. In 2017 HHS declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis.

The annual CCHS billboard design contest, held each spring, has focused on many other public service issues over the years from drinking and driving, to heroin abuse to texting and driving. It is run by CCHS Art teachers Justin Defazzio and Christine Festin.