LOOKS BRIGHT: Footballer finds award-winning success with Blood Center poster

Published 12:14 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

RESERVE — Art and football are in the blood of East St. John High School senior Christopher Thompson.

A versatile strong safety on the football team, Thompson spends much of his free time doodling and drawing.

“I like to draw what I see and what I know,” he said. “I like to actually sit down and look at something or take a photo and study it and try to get it down.”

So when East St. John High’s Talented Art teacher Dana Perrett made Thompson enter The Blood Center’s annual art poster contest (“I didn’t want to do it,” he said. “She made me.”) it was only natural that he drew what he knew — a menacing football player holding a heart like a football with a bag of blood attached.

“Everything I draw has to do with what I do in real life, what I like to do,” Thompson said. “My art revolves around that.”

Now Thompson is mighty proud and a little bit richer after it was announced his design was the contest winner.

Christopher Thompson’s ‘Be A Team Player’ design took first place in a recent blood donation poster design contest.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I mean, I expect myself to win because I don’t expect less, but I was shocked.”

East St. John principal Tabari Simon is proud of the Wildcats senior, adding Thompson is a model citizen who is full of personality and plenty of jokes.

“Students like Chris make coming to work fun,” Thompson said. “You don’t have to worry about discipline. You don’t have to worry about if he’s going to go wrong. You just have to worry about doing the best for them and making sure that everything you do is in their best interests.”

Simon first met Thompson when the youngster was a transfer student from St. Charles Parish. Thompson and his family moved to St. John the Baptist Parish four years ago after their St. Rose home caught fire.

“It was an electrical fire,” he said. “I was asleep when my sisters ran in the room, telling me the kitchen was on fire. I didn’t believe them until I smelled the smoke. Then we rushed out the house.”

Simon was an administrator at Fifth Ward Elementary when Thompson arrived and quickly got to know the youngster.

“I get to graduate this young man twice in four years,” Simon said. “I walked him across the stage when he graduated from Fifth Ward and I get to walk him across the stage again.”

It was when he was at Albert Cammon Middle School when Thompson first discovered his love for art.

“My elementary school teacher told me I was a great artist but I didn’t really look into it until my seventh grade year in middle school,” he said.

“The Talented Art teacher there capitalized on my art and I realized I really like what I do. We would do work and I would just sit there and really take my time. She said I looked real interested. I just have an eye for it.”

He also has a knack for football, where he plays middle linebacker, defensive back and, occasionally, running back.

“I’m an athlete,” he said. “I play pretty much wherever coach puts me.”

Thompson said his motivation comes from his mom, Shenika Turley, his tough-love grandmother Adrian Harding, and his uncle, Reynor Derkins, who was a promising running back at Destrehan High School in the early 2000s.

“I looked up to him,” Thompson said. “He was my idol. He was one of the first running backs to rush for 1,000 yards at Destrehan. I just always wanted to be better than him. He had great grades, a 27 on the ACT. A lot of colleges wanted him. I’d see college (recruiters) walk up to him and I was like, I want to be like him. But he didn’t walk the right path.”

Thompson hopes to use his talents — both on and off the field — to get himself to college.

“I want to major in art,” he said. “That way, if football doesn’t turn out the way I want it to, I can fall back on my art.”