Essex County Teen Places Second in Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Statewide Drug Prevention Music Competition


The 10th Annual Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey Shout Down Drugs competition crowned three new winners on May 21, 2014. The winners will tour the state over the course of the next year, singing their prevention songs to different audiences. (l-r) Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director, Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, second place winner Patrick “PJ” Walshe of Verona, a junior at St. Peter’s Prep High School, third place winner, Luke Leifken of Andover, a senior at Newton High School, first place winners, Michael Mastellone, Derek Ritschel, Bradley Ritschel, and Matt Korzen, known as the Whiptones, students at Whippany Park High School, Paul Rotello, President and CEO, New Jersey Broadcasters Association, and Kimberly Smith, Regional Director, Community Investment, Comcast Cable.


VERONA – Patrick “PJ” Walshe, Jr. of Verona, Essex County, a student at St Peter’s Prep High School, Jersey City, is the statewide second place winner of the 10th Annual Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey’s Shout Down Drugs Prevention Concert.  Thirty-one New Jersey high school student finalists, representing 14 different counties, competed at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey. The song entries were evaluated by the prevention message in the lyrics, originality, and performance.

The New Jersey Shout Down Drugs music competition challenges high school students to create original music with lyrics that contain powerful peer-to-peer drug prevention messages.  The high school students competed for one of three music contracts with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), worth a total of $10,000, to perform their winning song at statewide events.

Walshe’s song, “Walk Away”, was selected by online voters and a judging panel of prevention industry professionals, law enforcement, and past Shout Down Drugs participants. 

“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.”

Finalists’ photo and interview opportunities are available upon request

Best known for its statewide anti-drug advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $70 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception the Partnership has garnered 120 Advertising and Public Relations Awards from National, Regional & Statewide Media Organizations.