Seneca Valley senior recognized for taking stand against substance abuse

| Saturday, July 12, 2014, 3:27 p.m.

Seneca Valley senior Maria Scott has taken a stand against drugs and alcohol, and she's reaping rewards from doing so.

The 17-year-old Cranberry resident won two drug- and alcohol-free social media contests sponsored by Communities in Schools Pennsylvania, or CISPA, the state branch of the nation's largest school dropout prevention organization.

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

For one contest, students ages 13 and older were asked to submit original photos that are a 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 a photo of her standing with her mother, grandmother and aunt, who is also 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 her photo getting the most votes.

Risky behaviors have never been appealing to Scott, who said the ladies 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 Scott, said her daughter wasn't just blowing smoke to win a contest.

“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.”

The second contest asked students to create tweets up to 140 characters about why they choose to be drug and alcohol free. Maria Scott tweeted two short poems, which 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.”

Scott lives 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.

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

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

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