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Girl's anti-drug poster earns her spot in calendar

| Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005

Brianna Speck of Valencia believes drugs are garbage, and people should kick the habit by throwing the drugs out with the trash.

A fifth grader at Mars Elementary School, Brianna, 10, has joined the fight against drugs by submitting a winning entry in the state attorney general's Drug Free Calendar contest.

Drawing on her love of art and taekwondo, Brianna created a 12- by 24-inch poster of a boy in a black belt uniform kicking a garbage can full of beer, cigarettes and hypodermic needles. Above the garbage can she wrote "Fight Against Drugs."

Fifth graders throughout the state entered the contest and two entries from each school were chosen to compete in the finals. Brianna's poster is one of 13 that will be displayed in the calendar, where it will be featured on the October page.

Winners were chosen based on their artistic creativity and their ability to illustrate and convey the anti-drug message.

"It's really exciting and an honor to have won out of all the people who entered the contest," Brianna said. "I just used my experience in taekwondo and thought of a garbage can because drugs are garbage."

Bob Speck credits his daughter's passion and talent for taekwondo for helping her win the contest.

"It really helps with her concentration and focus. She's a very good artist; she loves to draw," he said. "It also shows in her school work. She's a straight A student. We're very, very proud of her."

A student of martial arts since she was four years old, Brianna has been named Pennsylvania state champion in her age group three years in a row. Last June at the Taekwondo World Championships, she placed in the top 10 in the world in her age group and in October she came in fourth in nationals.

In May, Brianna will turn third degree taekwondo.

"I plan to become a master, but it takes years and years of hard work," she said.

It doesn't surprise Michelle Shipton, owner of Shipton's Martial Arts Academy in Seven Fields, that one of her star students won the calendar contest.

"Often with martial arts we try to carry over the mental attributes that martial arts instills into all areas of our lives," she said. "Brianna is very disciplined. At an early age she picked up the physical skills as well as the mental skills."

As part of her award for winning the contest, Brianna, her father and her mother, Diane, were treated Dec. 19 to a luncheon with Attorney General Tom Corbett and a tour of the state capitol building in Harrisburg.

"I had a fantastic time," Brianna said. "It was really nice inside the capitol."

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