A Thursday afternoon ceremony at Towson's historic courthouse was all about turning a negative into a positive.
The Baltimore County State's Attorney's office recognized area middle school students who participated in an anti-drug/alcohol art contest.
Winners, including Dundalk Middle School eighth-graders Taylor Smith-Clark and Evalyn Waller and Sparrows Point Middle School eighth-grader Hailee Smith, received checks in varying amounts to be used for "educational purposes."
And the best part of the event? The entire contest was paid for with assets seized by police from drug dealers.
"When you get your check today, you should remember: this is the only good thing a drug dealer will ever do for you," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger. "This is a great use of that money because it turns something bad into something good."
Representatives from law enforcement, county government and the business community judged more than 3,000 entries before selecting the 13 winning poster images. The winners got checks, ranging from $500 to $1,000 and their artwork was compiled into a calendar.
The winners are:
- Grand prize: Franklin Middle School 8th grader Madeline Lutwyche
- First place: Dundalk Middle School 8th grader Taylor Smith-Clarke
- First place: Dumbarton Middle School 8th grader Katherine Martinez
- First place: Liberty Christian 6th grader Sawyer VeStrand
- Second place: Franklin Middle School 8th grader Miranda Morris
- Second place: Sparrows Point Middle School 8th grader Hailee Smith
- Second place: Dundalk Middle School 8th grader Evalyn Waller
- Second place: St. Clement Mary Hofbauer 7th grader India Pinnock
- Second place: Perry Hall Christian 7th grader Blanche Reichert
- Second place: Perry Hall Christian 7th grader Sarah Ross
- Second place: Pikesville Middle School 6th grader Guiliana Datnoff
- Second place: Pine Grove Middle School 6th grader Amado Laranang
- Second place: Liberty Christian 6th grader Aaron Owings
In addition, the State's Attorney's Office chose a number of students whose artwork will be made into a collage. Those winners, including Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke seventh-grader Colleen Manlove, each receive $300.
Those winners are:
- Deer Park Middle School 7th grader Ayotemi Adewale
- Dumbarton Middle School 7th grader Caroline Burns
- St. Agnes School 7th grader Patrick Ehrman
- St. Stephen's School 7th grader Abby Ewers
- St. Ursula's School 8th grader Elyssa Ferguson
- St. John the Evangelist School 7th grader Isabella Huffman
- Cockeysville Middle School 6th grader Emily Levitt
- Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke's 7th grader Colleen Manlove
- Arbutus Middle School 6th grader Gage Mellon
- Golden Ring Middle School 6th grader Saraya Paul
- Coceysville Middle School 8th grader Dominic Rozycki
- Perry Hall Middle School 7th grader Mackenzie Young