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Ronan students join ‘Paint the State’ education effort

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RONAN — Six Ronan Middle School students have tossed their hats into the ring for this year’s “Paint the State” art competition with each creating artwork with anti-meth messaging that’s displayed in various locations in Ronan. 

RMS teacher Bill Becker recruited Anaka Hardy, Anastasia Hertz, Kailyn Marengo, Loren Olson, Rayna Tonasket and April Uhrich to join the competition as part of a new elective class he began teaching this year. 

“I’m a math teacher in Ronan and I have been for 13 years, so this is the first year I’ve ever taught an elective,” Becker commented. “Our whole theme was just basically ‘why not?’ Why not try everything we can try to make ourselves smarter, to showcase our talents and things like that … I’ve just been out there looking for things to challenge our best and brightest.”

Paint the State is a program of the Montana Meth Project that engages Montanans of all ages in harnessing their passion and creativity and putting it toward on-the-ground drug prevention by inspiring drug-free lives. Regional and statewide judging by a Paint the State panel has been underway this month and award announcements will come out in August. Popular voting is currently open for anyone to select their favorite entries. This year, over $100,000 will be awarded to winning participants, including three $10,000 grand prizes. 

“We actually didn’t even find out about it until the deadline had passed,” Becker shared. “We sat down as a group and said, ‘you’re never going to get what you don’t ask for, so who cares? The deadline’s passed, let’s fill out the application together and mention that we received it today and had it back within an hour of receiving it, what can they do? The worst thing they can say is no.’ And they ended up saying yes.” 

Located on the Access Montana building, Hertz, Marengo, and Tonasket’s submitted a two- poster group submission entitled, “Meth Kills Your Home.” Hardy and Olson’s submission can be viewed at the Ronan Events Center upper level and features a mixed media depiction of a person drowning from the effects of meth. Finally, hung in Ronan Middle School, Uhrich’s submission is a painting with the theme “meth ruins more than just your life.” 

To view the students’ work online and submit votes in support of their submissions, visit the following links:


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