Dwayne Harrison, 16, decided to enter a nationwide energy conservation poster contest last year because he wanted to warn people against procrastinating in saving energy.
Thinking about the many ways people waste energy, the Anacostia High School junior drew a picture of the stars of "The Wizard of Oz" skipping merrily down the yellow brick road. Harrison drew a rainbow over the characters -- Dorothy, who was lost; the Tin Mam, who lacked a heart; the Lion, who had no courage; and the Scarecrow, who didn't have a brain -- and bordered them in bold black letters saying, "Save Energy Here, Not Over The Rainbow."
"I used bright colors because I wanted the message to jump out and slap people in the face," Harrison said. "A lot of people are lost in a dream and they need to wake up before our energy resources run out. People either don't have the heart, don't have the courage or don't have the brains to conserve energy."
The Pepco-Edison Electric Institute national poster contest, held for the first time this year, attracted entries from 344 public and private high school students. A majority of the judges agreed that Harrison's poster most dynamically and artistically conveyed his poignant message, an EEI spokesman said.
In March, the articulate student was awarded first prize, for which he received $200. His colorful poster was duplicated and sent to 2,700 schools across the country.
Walter Cooke, an art teacher at Anacostia, considers Harrison an outstanding artist and encouraged him to enter the contest. Harrison's winning poster is partly the product of chance, however. When Cooke asked to see how his poster was progressing, a sketch Harrison had made of the "Wizard of Oz" characters fell out of his notebook and attracted Cooke's attention.
"He asked, 'Is that it?' I said, 'Yes.' I wanted to show that I had been doing something," said Harrison. "He nodded and said, 'Start working on the slogan.' After I came up with a slogan and started improving the drawing, he kept telling me, "That's going to be the winning poster.' He was right."
Cooke believes Harrison's success is particularly noteworthy because it occurred during his first year of art instruction, working in a science lab underequipped in art supplies. "Dwayne is not typical of the students of today -- he is very serious, very mature and respectful," Cooke said.
Harrison said that winning the first contest he had ever entered gave him confidence to enter others. He hasn't yet won again, but the Southeast native is too involved in other activities to worry. Recently elected president of his school's student government, he also serves as corresponding secretary for the D.C. Student Advisory Council and vice president of the junior class. Well built and fleet-footed, he runs and plays saxophone in the Anacostia High School concert band.
Harrison said he is proud of Anacostia because several of his classmates also have been winners this school year. According to a school spokesman, 11 other students have won local and national contests in essay writing, poster design, science projects and singing. And the school's wrestling team won the city championship this school year.
"Anacostia is very progressive," Harrison said, smiling. "A lot of the students realize that the education that you get out of school depends on the effort that put into school."