Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Contest wields beauty in words, images to curb domestic violence

BROOKSVILLE — The title of Angelica Bertone's poem conveys a simple yet serious question: Do You Remember Me?

The theme is the abuse her mother suffered at the hands of Angelica's father many years ago, when Angelica was 4. The poem captures the words that Angelica would say to her father if she were to see him again.

Katy McHugh took an assignment from her creative writing class and penned a poem called My View. Her powerful words tend to hit home. "I made my dad cry with the first (poem) I wrote," she said last week.

Bertone and McHugh, both seniors at Nature Coast Technical High School, were among the winners of the Dawn Center's annual Art and Poetry Contest.

Hernando County students were invited to draw pictures or write poems according to the theme: "Many views, one vision; making Hernando County free of domestic and sexual violence." There were more than 200 entries and eight winners.

The contest, in its second year, added poetry this year. The artwork was on display throughout the Purple Leopard, a home-decorating business on Broad Street owned by T.L. Diaz and Laura Wever.

Diaz and Wever, supporters of the Dawn Center of Hernando County, which serves domestic abuse victims, partnered with that organization to host a reception for the winning artwork. They worked with Dawn Center prevention and social change advocate Morgan C. Moeller.

At the reception at the Purple Leopard, prints of the artwork were framed, displayed and available for purchase. Proceeds benefited the Dawn Center.

Bertone's experience with domestic violence made this contest especially meaningful for her. "It is a very terrible thing that happens to women," she said.

Her mother, Diane Frederick, was surprised by the poem. "I didn't even know she'd written (it)," Frederick said. "It's a touchy subject. It's important to let them express themselves about it."

Bertone wrote it last year and had it published in Creative Poetry Communication. Her teacher at that time, Patricia Genovese, submitted it to the Dawn Center contest as well.

"Because of the nature of the contest, it was a way of healing and helping others," Genovese said. "She said it all, and I said 'It's got to be shared.' "

Debbie Andrews, the Dawn Center's executive director, was delighted with the turnout at the reception and with the number of entries. "With all of the kids that responded to the contest, we're bringing awareness," she said.

The center also is trying to curb domestic violence through classroom programs, which vary for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Many topics are covered, including helping children label their feelings and apply self-control strategies, creative conflict resolution and appreciation of differences.

Here are the contest winners:

Arts category: First place, Challenger K8 School of Science and Mathematics eighth-grader Katey Johnson, 13; second place, Challenger K8 eighth-grader Mariela Cabrera, 14; third place, Challenger K8 eighth-grader Alexis Cabrera, 13; and honorable mention, Challenger K8 sixth-grader Iana Escober-Nario, 11.

Poetry category: First place, Nature Coast Technical High School junior Christin Bondanza, 16; second place, Angelica Bertone, Nature Coast senior, 17; third place, Nature Coast senior Katy McHugh, 18; and honorable mention, Nature Coast junior Logan Feinberg, 16.

Businesses and organizations that contributed to the reception or awards were: MOSI, Wet N' Wild, Fun Zone, Beacon Theaters, Chick-fil-A, the Paper Porch, Weeki Wachee Springs, Spring Hill Lanes (which donated 250 passes — one for each participating student), Village Pizza, Publix, Business Professional Women, Atria Evergreen Woods, Main Street Eatery and Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Brooksville.

Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at

Contest wields beauty in words, images to curb domestic violence 01/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 5:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  2. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  5. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]