From Left: Nancy Lopez Elementary School Teacher Connie Marquez, award-winner Jesus Luna, Missing Persons Program administrator Ginene Trajillo and State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez pose for a photo following the award ceremony Friday. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
A special Nancy Lopez Elementary School fifth-grader received a statewide recognition Friday by the New Mexico State Police for his drawing depicting “Stranger Danger.”
Jesus Luna, of Connie Marquez’s class, was surprised with a pizza party, special badges, goodies and a backpack full of school supplies delivered by Santa Fe-based Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez.
“I’m so proud of him,” his father Efren Luna said as he watched.
Luna’s crayon-drawn poster depicts a rather sad-looking man in the back seat of a police car with a “mom” and “daughter” watching from the background. His poster was selected to be first-place among all fifth-graders in the state.
The poster will be sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to be judged in the national “Bring Our Children Home” contest.
“These children have bright ideas and they’re very creative,” Gutierrez said. “As you can see, he drew a picture here with a mom and daughter, and where’s the bad guy? He’s in the police car. It’s creative, and that’s what we’re here for. Based on his effort and his ideas.”
Luna said he was inspired recently when he witnessed a scene when a man attempted to abduct a young girl.
“When I was with my cousins, the police took them and they were all sad, and I saw them through the window,” Luna said. “That’s how I came up with that guy also. I just put myself in the place of that girl when she was seeing her mom. I would be all excited about seeing my mom again.”
Ginene Trajillo of the New Mexico State Police Missing Persons program also helped Luna celebrate the award.
“I think it’s neat they get involved,” Trajillo said. “It kind of gives them an idea when someone’s missing. It’s a good program all the way around. It brings it closer to home and helps them stay grounded. It helps (children) be aware of different people out there because they’re kids and they’re innocent.”
Gutierrez spent time during the pizza party talking to the class about the dangers of talking to strangers. The children had plenty of opportunities to ask him questions.
“We came from Santa Fe for this,” he said. “That’s how much it meant for us.”