Danville Student Wins Statewide "Tar Wars" Contest

Danville, VA - A Danville student is still beaming, after receiving a special honor last week. Recent Park Elementary School graduate Ashante Gravely won the 2014 Virginia Tar Wars Poster Contest, and got to represent the state nationally.

Though she didn't win the national competition, she still has some great memories and bragging rights.

It all started last school year when Ashante Gravely was a 5th grader at Park Avenue Elementary. They challenged the kids to create anti-smoking awareness posters.

Ashante's creation simply stated, "Don't celebrate smoking, celebrate your birthday." Her cautionary reminder won best in the state - a pleasant surprise to her family and friends.

"They kept telling me congratulations and they were happy for me, " Ashante said.

Last week, she and her family traveled to Washington, D.C. where they met Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and other statewide winners from all over the country.

"I think it was a great opportunity. It's one that is probably a little intimidating for a rising 6th grader but one she handled very well, " said Missy Neff Gould, Director of Community and Government Relations at Danville Regional Medical Center. She also made the trip.

DRMC brought the national tar wars project to Danville, to reach children as early as possible.

"Once you get to high school and middle school, that's when those types of things start getting introduced to children. So it's a critical age to learn more about it, " Neff Gould said.

Ashante's mother says she's proud that her daughter can help others make better life choices.

"To know that we're teaching them and they're actually getting it, that's great. It makes you feel like everything that you're doing is worth while, " said Stephanie Gravely.

Ashante is not the first winner from Danville.

Right now, Park Avenue Elementary is the only school that participates in the contest, but DRMC is hoping to expand the program to other schools in the near future.