"I love to draw and design things like posters," Sanchez said. "I do it all the time."
However, Sanchez had a slight problem when it was time to make an entry in the annual Weehawken Against Drugs and Alcohol poster contest.
"I really wanted to enter in both third and fourth grade," Sanchez explained. "But I forgot the deadline and didn't enter. I made the poster each time, but I just didn't remember the deadline."
So when the poster contest deadline arrived this year, Sanchez was more than ready.
"I just did it to have fun," Sanchez said. "I didn't think I had a chance of winning. I didn't think much of it after I drew it."
When the voting for the contest took place at the annual Weehawken Day Festival in September, Sanchez missed it.
"I couldn't find where the posters were located," Sanchez said. "A lot of my friends said they voted for me and I was pretty thrilled about that, but I didn't even get a chance to vote."
Sanchez's poster depicted a female baseball pitcher firing a fastball past a baseball-playing narcotic pill, which stood at the plate.
"My theme was 'Make Drugs Strike Out,'" Sanchez said. "The girl was pitching and the pill was up to bat. I really like playing baseball and I've pitched a lot, so maybe that was me."
Sanchez' colorful creation caught the eye of more than 700 voters at the Weehawken Day Festival - and thus, it was the winner of the annual poster contest concerning drug and alcohol awareness.
More than 100 township youngsters participated in the contest, which was run by the township in conjunction with the township's DARE program, in which Weehawken police officers conduct a 16-week in-school weekly classroom session on the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.
'I got so excited'
When Sanchez received word from her teachers at Roosevelt School that she was the winner of the top prize of $100, she couldn't believe it.
"I got so excited that I won that I just screamed," Sanchez said. "I wasn't sure that I would win. I never expected first place. With all those posters, I didn't think I had a chance."
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner was impressed with the high number of entrants and the quality of the work.
"The artwork on the posters just keeps getting better and better," Turner said. "This was probably the best work we've had in the contest, and we've been doing the contest for years. We start off with 100 posters and narrow it down to 15 finalists and then decide who the winners are. More than 700 people took the time to vote. That's more than some elections. To get 700 people to stop and vote on a poster contest is something."
Alfred Orrechio, the vice-principal at the high school, was asked to coordinate the poster contest.
"It's educational, it's fun and it's rewarding," Turner said when he presented the $100 prize to Sanchez.
Emily Verdon was the first runner-up, followed by second runner-up Kelsie Quintana and third runner-up William Feliciano. All received prizes.
But only Sanchez got $100.
"I don't know what I'll do with the money yet," Sanchez said. "Maybe I'll just save it. Right now, I don't know what to buy. This was like an early Christmas present for me."
She also learned a lesson: It's good to meet deadlines.
"Next year, I'll definitely know when the deadline is," the affable Sanchez said. "I'll definitely enter the contest again."
Sanchez has one other plan before next year's contest: She plans on joining the township's softball program.
"More than 700 people took the time to vote. That's more than some elections." - Mayor Richard Turner