Stacey O’Neal, junior high and high school teacher in Valier, had just taught a risks of drug use unit in her health class and suggested to the students they enter the “Paint the State” contest as part of the Montana Meth Project.
O’Neal had each of her 23 students submit ideas for the mural and then they combined the favorites of those for the final design.
“We wanted something that was a little bit more pleasing to the eye and that would promote our small little town and our lake that we have here,” said O’Neal.
Their mural is titled “Get Hooked on Montana, Not Drugs” to encourage people getting outside and being active at Lake Frances or the Rocky Mountain Front instead of doing drugs when struggling or feeling lonely.
The students enjoyed being able to put this mural on a prominent building in Valier to hopefully spread the encouraging message to not do drugs: “Not Even Once” which is the theme for this year’s Paint the State contest.
“You don't do drugs once, because if you even do it once you could get addicted and addiction eventually leads to death,” said Hadley Standley, a freshman at Valier High School.
One of the students who participated, Trevor Nation, was able to explore his creativity beyond the classroom.
“Fortunately, here we don't have a big drug problem, but for other places that do [they’ll] get to drive through and see that we're standing firm against it, it can help a lot of people,” said Nation.
“I really liked it because we incorporated something that our town does a lot, and we live next to a lake which I felt stood out,” said Kolter Forbes, an eighth grader at Valier Junior High School.
The students are all very proud of the hard work they put into this project and are hoping to win the People’s Choice Award to raise money for their school.
Voting opened July 17th and closes August 17th. “Get Hooked on Montana, Not Drugs” is currently in first place, but there is still time to keep voting. To learn more about the Montana Meth Project or to place your vote, click here.