Mars teen's poster earns grand prize

| Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:24 p.m.

A Mars Area Middle School student recently won the grand prize for a poster she entered in a statewide contest promoting alcohol awareness.

Claire Valentine, 13, submitted a poster for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's 2013-14 Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest with the slogan “Curl up With a Book, Don't Give Alcohol Another Look” in November.

“I really like to read, so that's how I came up with the idea,” Valentine said.

Valentine, a seventh-grader, said she learned about the negative effects of alcohol in health class and through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program. She said she was encouraged to participate in the contest by her gym and health teacher, Donna Dallatore. After waiting more than two months, Claire said she was eager to hear the results.

“It was really exciting,” she said. “I've been waiting for the letter to come in the mail for a long time.”

A ceremony to honor Valentine and the other contest winners will be held April 15 at the State Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, but she won't be able to attend because of another obligation. Valentine was selected to be part of a district band concert where she will play the flute. The concert happens to be on the same day in a different part of the state.

“We had a very tough choice to make there,” said Kary Valentine, 46, her father. “It's something that she's put a lot of time in practicing for.”

The poster will be on display at the Capitol from April 14 to 18. Valentine and her parents hope to make a trip to see it while it's on display. The poster also will be made into bookmarks to be distributed to school and public libraries across the state.

“It will be a good keepsake,” said Claudine Valentine, 42, Claire's mother. “Our middle school library will order them to distribute throughout the school.”

Claire Valentine also received $100 for winning the grand prize, but is in no rush to spend it.

“I'll probably just save it for something special,” she said.

Emily Balser is a freelance writer.

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