The Pickerington Police Department's new natural gas-powered Drug Abuse Resistance Education car now has a hood logo, courtesy of the artistic vision of a Pickerington High School North junior.

The Pickerington Police Department's new natural gas-powered Drug Abuse Resistance Education car now has a hood logo, courtesy of the artistic vision of a Pickerington High School North junior.

The Honda Civic CNG car was donated to the department last April by Columbus-based automobile dealer Lindsay Honda, with additional monetary assistance from Volunteer Energy.

The vehicle was ready to roll with the exception of its blank hood. The police department enlisted the help of art students from two Pickerington high schools to supply contestants willing to use their imaginations to fill in the empty canvas.

"We left the hood blank and held a contest to see who could come up with the best design," said Pickerington DARE Officer Dan Simcox.

The winner of the contest was Kelly Cassady of Pickerington, who combined the image of Pickerington High School North's mascot, the panther, with Pickerington High School Central's tiger to create a unified symbol the city of Pickerington can both identify with and rally around.

"It's half panther, half tiger," Simcox said. "It's pretty cool and it looks pretty good on the car."

Cassady said she came up with design in her computer graphics class.

"We had to come up with something that represented the whole city," she said.

She also added the DARE insignia and an American flag to augment a patriotic theme to her design.

"It was pretty simple," Cassady said. "I did it on the computer at school."

She said the award holds extra special meaning given that she is one of Simcox's former DARE students.

"I think it was in the fifth grade at Harmon Middle School," Cassady said.

She said she hopes to take her love and obvious talent for art to the next level.

"I have been looking at graphic design schools, it's really interesting and I hope to make it a career," Cassady said.

Simcox said the DARE car received numerous accolades during the Violet Festival parade Friday, July 26.

"The DARE car stood out so well," he said, adding one attendee commented its "patriotic" design even brought him to tears.

Simcox said only he drives the vehicle -- which runs on compressed natural gas at half the cost of a regular gasoline-powered car -- to DARE activities at three Pickerington middle schools and other programming.

He said despite participation in DARE now being strictly voluntary, more than 1,000 students sign up annually to take the course that focuses on drug, alcohol and tobacco use prevention.

"The parents have been really supportive of it," Simcox said.

"(Students) meet one hour before school starts then they go to homeroom," he said.

Simcox said the DARE car will be showcased next at the "Cops and Kids Day," to be held Aug. 17 in Groveport.

There the car will be entered in a competition with other DARE cars from throughout central Ohio for best looking vehicle.

Simcox said Cassady's winning design just might put Pickerington's DARE car on top.

"It's pretty unique. We've got a good chance, the way it looks," Simcox said.