Seneca Valley student recognized for stand against substance abuse

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Seneca Valley senior Maria Scott has taken a stand against drugs and alcohol, and she's already reaping the rewards from this position.

The Cranberry student, 17, won two drug and alcohol-free social media contests sponsored by Communities in Schools Pennsylvania, the state branch of the nation's largest school dropout prevention organization, and garnered $500 from the two wins.

“I entered because I know a lot of people our age struggle with whether drugs and alcohol should influence their lives,” Scott said.

For one contest, students ages 13 and older were asked to submit original photos that are a visual representation of why they choose to be drug-free. The photos were posted on My Voice PA's Facebook page and voted on by the page's fans.

Scott chose to post a photo of her standing with her mother, grandmother and aunt, who also is her godmother, at one of her chorus concerts. The caption reads “I choose to be drug and alcohol free so that my family can be proud of me.”

She won $300 for getting the most votes on her photo.

Risky behaviors have never been appealing to Scott, who said the women in her life have always served as role models.

“They've always been alcohol free, and they've been happy because of it,” she said.

Maria's mother, Christine, said her daughter wasn't just blowing smoke to win a contest, but that she truly believes in the opportunities she can be afforded by staying away from temptations.

“She's always trying to make good decisions,” Christine Scott said. “She's learning as she's getting older that making decisions against drugs and alcohol will get her far.”

For the second contest, students were asked to create tweets of up to 140 characters about why they choose to be drug and alcohol free. Maria Scott tweeted two short poems about why she chooses to be drug free, and it earned her another $200.

The contests were part of CISPA's alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention campaign My Voice PA, which promotes the theme “My life. My choice.”

“Drugs and alcohol play a large role in our school dropout crisis,” said CISPA President and state director Ryan Riley. “We are extremely proud of Maria for choosing to stand up for the drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle she knows is right. Maria is one of many students throughout Pennsylvania who is achieving great things because of the good choices she makes every day.”

Maria Scott lives in Cranberry with her parents, Christine and Joseph, and has a brother, Joey, who's in college. She's involved with the school's Students Against Destructive Decisions group, which is how she found out about the My Voice PA contests.

She's a member of the student council, National Honor Society, Key Club and girls tennis team, and works part-time at Justice.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or

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