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Valle Crucis eighth grader Hadley Carpenter takes home the top prize in the 2020 Middle School NC Forestry Association’s Forest Products Week Essay Contest.

VALLE CRUCIS — Valle Crucis eighth grader Hadley Carpenter recently took home the top prize in the 2020 Middle School NC Forestry Association’s Forest Products Week Essay Contest.

Open to students across North Carolina, the contest tasked students to write an essay on an everyday product made from trees in North Carolina and how the item has helped them in their daily life.

Carpenter’s winning Essay “The Beauty of Black Walnut” discussed a table created by her father and brother from a slab of wood collected near Mount Mitchell.

In reward for winning the contest, Carpenter took receipt of a $200 Visa gift card, a wooden trophy and a certificate. Her teacher, Chelsie Eldreth was awarded a $100 Visa gift card for classroom materials and a scholarship to attend the 2021 Sustainable Forestry Teachers Experience.

Eldreth said Carpenter was a hard-working student who chose to enter the contest herself and worked on the essay outside of her regular classroom work.

“Hadley is a hard working student that goes above and beyond in and out of the classroom,” Eldreth said. “I am proud of her essay and the fact that she voluntarily worked on it outside of our class time. She is helpful and kind and she has a very bright future ahead of her. I’m proud of the way she’s represented Valle Crucis School and Watauga County in such a positive light across our state.”

Eldreth teaches Carpenter as part of the school’s career and technical education program called Exploring Careers.

In her essay, Carpenter said her family’s handmade table had become a focal point of their household.

“We use the table constantly throughout the day,” Carpenter wrote. “It’s an ever present focal point of our house. It has definitely helped us to have more family meals together and find time to sit down, take a breath amidst all the craziness of our life, and talk to each other about how our day was.”

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