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Carolyn Griner, a 9th grade student at Valwood School, has a demonstrated history of involvement with the arts and related successes.

As a kindergarten student at Valwood, Griner’s artwork was included in the Turner Center’s Annual Spring into Art Invitation Design Contest, a special extension of the Annual Youth Art Month Exhibition. More than 50 pieces a year are entered into the contest by teachers of grades K-5. The winner receives a free class at the Turner Center and allows for the publication of their artwork on tickets and invitations for the annual Spring into Art Opening Gala. Their work is then professionally framed, formally presented to them, and displayed during the annual Spring into Art Exhibit.  Griner won this contest in 2015, preceding the 28th Annual Spring into Art Exhibit.

Griner says that as a young child, she loved to draw and was “inspired by nature and its beauty.” She was encouraged in her interests by family members, and shares that over the years, her artistic interests have “shifted from painting and drawing to the art of written word.” Griner credits her middle school teacher, Mrs. Kyndal Stephens, with encouraging her students to learn more about poetry and literature. Griner learned of the Turner Center’s Annual Art of Writing contest through Valwood, and over the last two years, she has participated and placed in both the 2nd and 3rd annual contests. Most recently, her poem “I Have a Dream” placed 2nd in the category of middle school poetry. This category received 74 total entries, more than any of the total six categories to date. In addition to receiving prize money, Griner’s poem was published in an anthology, of which she received a free copy.

Griner’s history of involvement in the arts also includes pottery, culinary, and other art classes at the Turner Center. She studies dance and piano, in addition to a wide variety of other extracurricular activities that include sports and her church’s youth group.

When asked what advice she would give to another person her age who is interested in becoming involved the arts, Griner says to “believe in yourself and explore all of the interests you may have in the arts.” She also says, “One can never know what opportunity awaits when you step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Valdosta is very fortunate to have the Turner Center for the Arts to be able to expand our horizons.”

To learn more about ways to explore the arts – including by enrolling in beginner-friendly classes and participating in the 4th Annual Art of Writing contest, which is sponsored in part by Greater Valdosta United Way, the Georgia Council for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Snake Nation Press, and the Valdosta Daily Times – contact the Center at 229.247.2787 and visit