The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

May 23, 2014

2 Stanly students win AG’s contest

Girls claim 1st, 3rd

By Ritchie Starnes, News Editor

Thursday, May 22, 2014 — Creativity proves worthwhile for two Stanly County high school students.

Brandi Walker and Samantha Wright finished first and third, respectively, in N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Stop Rx Abuse contest.

Cooper partnered with the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, the North Carolina Parent Resource Center and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse to sponsor the competition. The contest asked students enrolled in grades nine through 12 in North Carolina to create 30-second, original public service announcement videos on the topic of teen prescription drug abuse.

“These students used their creativity to help spread the word about the dangers of prescription drug abuse,” Cooper said.

“Too many young people still don’t understand that just one pill can kill when misused or abused, and there’s no better way to reach young people than through their peers.”

Walker, a sophomore at Stanly Early College, saw a poster on campus about the contest and decided to enter.

She used her artistic ability and interest in film work to create a video that included a stop-motion technique.

“I knew I wanted to do something out of the box and I knew what I wanted to get,” Walker said.

It was the 30-second time limit that proved to be the greatest challenge for Walker and Wright.

Walker spent about 10 hours perfecting her entry that claimed top prize.

Already working on a project about the history of silent film along with her gift of art, Walker gleaned inspiration about what she wanted to accomplish with the submission.

The fact that she tackled the project without telling anyone, other than her father who spotted her working on the creation, makes Walker’s winning entry even more fascinating.

“My principal didn’t know until I told her that I won,” Walker said.

Principal Anne Faulkenberry said the Early College encourages self-discipline through its curriculum.

“While I didn’t know Brandi entered the contest, I was not surprised that she won,” Faulkenberry said.

“She’s that kind of student.”

Walker was the youngest of the top three to earn recognition in the contest.

Wright, on the other hand, learned about the contest per a class assignment. A senior at Gray Stone Day School, she and her classmates were required to complete the task for a project. In addition to third-place honors, she received a score of 100 from her teacher for her efforts.

“It was kind of for a grade,” Wright said.

“I wasn’t expecting to win.”

She wanted her video to be as original as possible.

“I was trying to think of things of what people wouldn’t do,” Wright said.

Sam Collins, a senior from Burlington Christian Academy in Burlington, was runner-up.  

Cooper played the winning videos and presented the students with their awards at the North Carolina Parent Resource Center Conference in Raleigh last week.

The winning videos were selected by an independent panel of judges. The first place winner received an iPad, the second place winner received an iPod Touch and the third place winner received an iTunes gift card. Prizes were provided by the contest sponsors.

The winning videos are featured on the N.C. Department of Justice website. Department of Justice staff also selected 10 videos as honorable mention winners. The videos can be viewed at or on the office’s YouTube channel.

Data from North Carolina and other states demonstrate that prescription drugs kill far more people than illegal drugs, according to a study Cooper presented.

Approximately 1,000 people die each year in North Carolina from overdosing on prescription drugs, according to the N.C. Division of Public Health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that for each overdose death nationally, there are 825 people abusing prescription drugs.

The intentional abuse of prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives to get high is particularly a concern among teens. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey, among people ages 12-17, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug, behind marijuana. The survey also found that most people age 12 or older who abuse prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member for free.

“Most teens can find prescription drugs to abuse by simply opening the medicine cabinet or asking a friend,” Cooper said.

“We’re getting students involved in fighting this epidemic so they can educate their friends and families and hopefully prevent addiction and overdose deaths.”

Plans call for the contest to run again next year.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email