By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Sydney Claire Noles got a bit of the star treatment in New York and at the Etowah County Commission meeting on Feb. 4, where she was recognized for being a grand prize winner in the Uncle Ben’s Beginner’s Cooking contest in 2013.
She won a $15,000 prize for herself, and she won $30,000 for Corley Elementary School, where she’s a student. The money is to be used to improve the school’s cafeteria.
As her grandfather, Dr. Tommy Mosley explained, the 7-year-old normally goes by “Sydney,” but there were already three other Sydney’s entered into the contest, so organizers suggested she go by her middle name Claire.
“That’s her stage name,” he joked.
Sydney’s family lives in the Sardis area, but her parents Rachel and Jason are both educators in the Boaz school system, so she attends school in Boaz.
Sydney and her family made a video of their preparation of “Crockpot Chicken and Rice Supreme” and entered it in the Uncle Ben’s contest, which is designed to promote families preparing healthy meals together, using Uncle Ben’s products.
As part of the contest, Sydney got to appear on the Rachel Ray show twice – once with the other finalists in the contest and once as the grand-prize winner.
“It was fun,” Sydney said. Rachel Ray was very nice, and to get ready for her appearance on TV, she got to wear makeup.
She also enjoyed meeting the other two finalists in the contest. One was from Georgia, and one from New York, Sydney said.
Her favorite part of the trip, she said, was getting to see “The Lion King,” on Broadway. She also got to see the Statue of Liberty and go ice skating.
Etowah County Commissioner Larry Payne arranged for the commission to present Sydney with a proclamation, and all the commission members praised her for her accomplishments.
Sydney thanked each of the commissioners politely.
Her grandfather said despite all the out-of-the ordinary attention, Sydney hasn’t let it go to her head.
“She’s still just our little girl,” Mosley said.
Mosley said the trip to New York in December was complicated a bit, but it didn’t through Sydney off.
“They were supposed to get there and have a rehearsal,” Mosley said, but bad weather cancelled the flight. “When they got another flight they got there and went straight to the show,” he said, with no opportunity for rehearsing.
“That might have been for the best,” he said. “There was no time for Sydney to get nervous.”
As for the school lunchroom make-over, Sydney’s suggestion is a practical one.
“I think it needs new tables,” she said.