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West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented a $500 check to three Berkeley County elementary schools Thursday, as part of the eleventh annual SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest.

Berkeley schools awarded $500 Thursday were Hedgesville Elementary, Mountain Ridge Intermediate and Tomahawk Intermediate. Hedgesville boasts first-grade winner Xavier Adams, while Mountain Ridge claims third-grade regional victor Trishia Ofori-Yedu. Tomahawk Elementary fourth-grade student Uryan George completed the day’s winners.

The students are three of 15 regional winners. As a result, each student’s school received a $500 cash award.

“It’s a great privilege to personally meet with these essay contest winners and present the cash prizes to their schools,” said Treasurer Perdue.

In the past, winning schools have used the money to buy new equipment, offer learning incentives or reward students.

Treasurer Perdue recognized each student for their award-winning essays. “Every year I’m surprised and impressed by the students’ career choices and their ability to describe their goals at a young age,” Perdue said.

Each essay contest winner will receive $500 invested into a SMART529 college savings plan and will be recognized at a statewide awards ceremony in Charleston in September. At that time, each student will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win the grand prize, a total of $5,000 invested into a SMART529 account.

Winning entries were selected by an independent panel of judges based on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.

“These days, education beyond high school is an essential part of ensuring a child’s success,” said Treasurer Perdue. “This contest is a great opportunity for parents to grow their child’s college fund and teach their children about the importance of saving for higher education.”

SMART529 is a qualified tuition program issued by the West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees and administered by The Hartford.

For more information on the contest, log onto

The Treasury does not collect state taxes. Visit the The West Virginia State Tax Department for assistance.

West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
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