RIVESVILLE – A grade eight student at Rivesville Elementary-Middle School ended her school year by winning a statewide competition.
Liliona Wright, 14, was first named the regional winner of the Kids Kick Opioids competition, but on Thursday Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that Wright had been chosen as the state winner from among 67 works of art submitted for this year’s competition.
“Liliona’s design shows the grim reality of the opioid epidemic and how opioid abuse can destroy lives,” Morrisey said. “My congratulations to Liliona, our finalist and to all of our regional winners for their hard work in promoting opioid abuse awareness. We must do all we can to tackle the root causes of addiction and educate our young people about the serious consequences of addiction. “
Wright’s art features a drawing of a crying woman with a thought bubble that represents prescription pills above her head. “She was beautiful as a porcelain doll until she picked up the bottle, the beauty started to fade as the doll creaked and shattered …”, the illustration reads.
Morrisey said Wright’s works will soon appear in newspapers across West Virginia in a public service announcement. The 2021 competition marks the fifth year that Morrisey and his team have held the competition.
The judges also recognized Caitlin Modesitt, a grade eight student at Ravenswood Middle School in Jackson County, as a statewide finalist. His design will appear with Wright on the Attorney General’s website.
In proposing his design, Wright said his goal was to make his art accessible.
“I wanted the wording to be personal so that anyone who sees it can relate to the addiction tragedy,” she said. “I chose to make the girl a shattering porcelain doll because while things may look good on the surface, people can shatter on the inside.”
Wright said she didn’t expect to win.
“It’s shocking because there are so many schools and students participating, and being the winner is hard to describe,” she said. “I just wanted to get the message across on this issue our state is grappling with. I didn’t expect to win.
This is the third year that students in Chris Malnick’s Health Classes have been honored for their work in raising awareness of the dangers of opioid use. He said he was proud of her and the work she did.
“I’m really proud of Liliona and all of our college kids. They really work on their posters and connect the message to the picture, ”said Malnick.
Malnick said opioid abuse is real for residents of Marion County.
“The lives of so many people have been affected by this epidemic. It is important that our young people are aware of the dangers of using opioids. These students will be the ones who ultimately conquer the epidemic through education and safe practices to treat injuries and pain, ”said Malnick.
Wright joins two other students at his school who have received accolades statewide for their entries in the annual Kids Kick Opioids competition. In May 2020, Dakota Niebergau, an eighth-grader tied for second place statewide. In 2019, the school produced its first statewide winner in then-eighth-grade Karter King.
“I just wanted to send that once you try them they are almost impossible to stop,” she said. “Don’t really do it in the first place and I just wanted to explain the danger.”
Karter’s poster showed a talking opioid saying goodbye to his wife on his way to work, where he spends his time “ruining lives.” Their house is a prescription bottle and the bush has pills in it. The caption says “Try them out and see, you might never break free.” According to Karter, it was the portrayal of a doctor willing to prescribe too many opioids, which could be the trigger for someone on the road to dependence and addiction.
School principal Tyson Furgason said he is extremely proud of his students who work hard to share what they have learned about the dangers of drugs with others each year.
“We are delighted to have five regional winners, and particularly delighted with the victory of Liliona. She is our second winner in four years. She is a very intelligent, articulate and talented young woman. We are convinced that she will do great things. This is an important issue that requires special attention and we are happy to educate our students about the dangers that opioids can pose. Mr. Malnick is doing an incredible job and our students have responded very well.
In addition to Wright’s statewide victory, his comrades – Tanner Eddy, Khloee Eagle, Kirsten McDonald and Aunnah Fritzman – were named regional winners of this year’s competition.