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Career Center/Reynolds Student Wins "Safe Sober" Design Competition

To learn more about the Safe Sober Program, go to Safe Sober.

For more pictures, go to Your Permanent Record.

Safe 48By Kim Underwood

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

MAY 21, 2021 – Senior Samuel Rocha is already well on the path to a career in Graphic Design.

While still in high school, he established a freelance graphic design business for sports.  

Rocha, whose home school is Reynolds, continues developing his talents as he takes design classes with Stephanie Messer at the Career Center.

“He is just an exceptional student,” Messer said.

And he’s a fun person to know, she said. “I enjoy joking around with him. He’s a good kid.”

“I hope he always stays in contact with me. “He’s going places.”

For 31 years now, students attending WS/FC Schools and schools in surrounding counties have been invited to create designs for the Safe Sober T-shirts that the law firm of Daggett Shuler gives to students who sign a pledge not to drink and drive.

Design 34For the first 29 years of the program, people from the law firm – along such people as the mayor and representatives of the local law-enforcement community – would head to the winner’s school to surprise both the student and the student’s teacher.

With schools being out because of the coronavirus last year, they headed to the winner’s home. With students being back in the building this year, they headed to the Career Center, were one of Messer’s students had been named the winner.

Adjustments still had to be made though. With Rocha taking classes remotely, Bridget Hayes, who is an assistant principal at the Career Center, had to call him to tell him that it would be an excellent idea for him to come to the campus right away.

It was a surprise for Messer as well. She learned that her student had won only with Dagget, Shuler & Co. arrived on campus.

His family already knew what awaited him. With the understanding that they would keep it all a secret, David Daggett had alerted his family earlier, and, when Rocha arrived, he found his parents and siblings waiting for him along with:

Stephanie Messer

Mayor Allen Joines

Safe 41Assistant Chief William H. Penn and other representatives of the Winston-Salem Police Department

Bridget Hayes, Assistant Principal at the Career Center  

Andrew Allison and Brian Lee, Assistant Principals at Reynolds

David Daggett and Griff Shuler

Over the years, Daggett said when the presentation began, more than 600,000 students have taken the pledge not to drink and drive through the Safe Sober Program.

In the past, the T-shirts were given out to students who had a made a pledge not to drink and drive on prom night. With prom nights suspended last year, Daggett said, “The program has been enhanced to fit the changing of the times.”

This year, the shirts are being given out in connection with graduations.

When he spoke, Joines praised the program.

“Think how many lives were potentially saved,” he said.

Chief 50Penn said that it’s important to reward safe and healthy behavior.

After accepting a $1,000 check for college, Rocha said, “I didn’t see it coming.”

He was delighted to have been chosen.

“I really like when my work gets out there,” he said.

Messer also received a $1,000 check to use for classroom supplies.

In a sense, the day was a double win, Daggett said.

Because the entrees are judged anonymously, Daggett and Shuler learned that Rocha had designed the winning design only after judges chose it. Last year was the first in many years that a design by one of Messer’s students had not been chosen.

And now she was back as the teacher of the winning students.  

Rocha is going to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to major in graphic design. He plans to continue focusing on sports designs in his career.

Sister 66“I want to get on a bigger platform,” he said.

Rocha’s parents are Roberto and Alexandra Rocha. His twin sister Alexa is also a senior at Reynolds. Their younger sister Rebeca is a freshman at Atkins Academic & Technology High School, and their brother David is in the fifth grade at Easton Elementary.

When Daggett was introducing the family to everyone, he said, “Mrs. Rocha was the most excited parent I have ever spoken to.”

She told him she was going to have to have her hair done if she was coming to such an event.

Socha’s twin sister, Alexa, is headed to Forsyth Technical Community College next year. After earning an associate’s degree that will qualify her to become a dental hygienist, she plans to go to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on her way to becoming a dentist.

Rebeca envisions a career in nursing and chose Atkins because of its focus on science and technology.

David is thinking about a career in construction.

Shirt 61Alexandra Rocha is from Venezuela. In the past, she has worked with the Toyota Literacy Program at Easton and Mineral Springs elementary schools.   

And, no, she didn’t go to a hair stylist but, yes, she did put extra attention into making sure her hair looked especially good for Samuel’s big day.

Roberto Rocha is from Nicaragua. He is in IT with a focus on computers.

“I like to pull it apart and put it back together,” he said.

He is proud of their son.

“He is determined,” Roberto Rocha said. “Whenever he has his mind on something, he does it.”

“He is a good son.”  


Kim Underwood
336.727.2696 Ext. 70114