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nj.com: County Prep trio wins N.J. 'Shout Down Drugs' music competition

May 31, 2016

Nicholas Zeitlinger | The Jersey JournalBy Nicholas Zeitlinger | The Jersey Journal 
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on May 31, 2016 at 11:38 AM, updated May 31, 2016 at 11:39 AM

A trio of teens from County Prep High School in Jersey City won themselves a music contract with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey at the organization's drug abuse prevention music competition.

Juan Ferreira and Alexia Velazquez and Ayman Abdalla of the trio AJAni won first place with their original song "Death Train" at the 12th annual Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey's Shout Down Drugs (PDFNJ) Prevention Concert on May 25 at the Rutgers University.

"We are so honored to win this important honor," Velazquez said. "However, winning isn't everything, sharing is. Sharing all 21 contestants' music and talents to help those hooked on drugs to get off drugs, or maybe discourage those who are thinking about using drugs, is the real reason why we are here."

Ferreira and Velazquez, both from Jersey City, met Abdalla, from Bayonne, at County Prep, where they began making music together in the school's music department. The three are now seniors.

Michelle Greco, of Wall High School in Monmouth County, won second place with her song "Stand Away." Ricky Persaud Jr., of Shepard Prep High School in Morristown, took third place for his song "Don't Do It." The finalists were evaluated by the prevention message in the lyrics, originality and performance.

The state Shout Down Drugs competition challenges high school students to create original music with lyrics that contain powerful peer-to-peer drug prevention messages. At the conclusion of the competition, three finalists were awarded one of three music contracts with PDFNJ, worth a total of $10,000 to perform their winning song at statewide events.

"Simply by being here tonight, these amazing teen musicians have affirmed their commitment to a healthy and drug-free lifestyle," said Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. "We are proud of and each one of the participants and are always impressed with the level of talent in the state of New Jersey."

The concert was hosted by Bert Baron, on-air talent for WCTC 1450AM Talk Radio and host of the "Jersey Central" daily broadcast.

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