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Grand Prize Winner to be Announced at September Ceremony in Charleston

State Treasurer Riley Moore this week announced the 15 regional student winners and statewide teacher winner of this year’s SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest.

The winners were unveiled during a Facebook event earlier this week just ahead of national 529 Day, an annual celebration on May 29 (5/29) that raises awareness for 529 college savings plans around the country.

Parents, students and educators from around the state tuned in to hear the winners announced and learn more about the SMART529 program and 529 Day.

“This contest is a great way for parents to work with their children to prepare for the future,” Treasurer Moore said. “It also inspires our kids to dream of who they might be when they grow up.” 

In its fourteenth year, the SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest asked students in kindergarten through fifth grades to write an essay about what they want to be when they grow up. The teacher portion of the contest asked elementary school teachers to submit an essay about how they would use the contest in the classroom.

More than 2,300 students around the state participated in the contest. Essays from three age groups (grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) were judged in each of the five geographic regions, for a total of 15 regional winners.

Each regional winner will receive $500 invested into a SMART529 WV Direct account. An additional $4,500 will be awarded to a grand prize winner, who will be randomly selected in the fall. Each regional winner’s school will also be awarded a $500 cash prize to support school programs.

“Each of these winners have a bright future ahead of them,” Treasurer Moore said. “Due to pandemic and classroom shutdowns, it was a challenging year to enter. I am so proud of every student who submitted an essay.”

The winners, their schools and their dream professions are:

2021 “When I Grow Up” Contest Student Winners

Region One:

Brack McClung, 1st Grader at Lewisburg Elementary – Architect

Landon Tilley, 3rd Grader at Mullens Elementary – Environmental Scientist

Grayson Plumley, 4th Grader at Berlin McKinney Elementary – Orthodontist

Region Two:

Jameson Sibold, 1st Grader at Richmond Elementary – Disney Imagineer

Alivia Williams, 2nd Grader at Point Harmony Elementary – OBGYN

Addyson Gallion, 5th Grader at Spring Hill Elementary – Criminal Psychologist.

Region Three:

Finnian Chavoustie, 1st Grader at Johnson Elementary – Archeologist

Adeline Horne, 3rd Grader at Simpson Elementary – Translator

Stella Gigliotti, 5th Grader at St. Mary’s Elementary – Fiction Author

Region Four:

Benjamin Crowder, 1st Grader at Marlowe Elementary – Engineer

McKinsey Coon, 3rd Grader at C.W. Shipley Elementary – Child Therapist

Nathan Crites, 4th Grader at Moorefield Intermediate – Anesthesiologist

In Region Five:

Aurora Kibble, Kindergartener at Parkersburg Catholic Elementary – Surgeon

Jacob Whisler, 2nd Grader at Steenrod Elementary – Astronaut Engineer

Lainee Hersey, 5th Grader at Wheeling Country Day School – Forensic Pathologist

2021 “When I Grow Up” Contest Statewide Teacher Winner

Kishia Stapleton, 4th Grade teacher at Chapmanville Intermediate

The winners, their families and school officials will be invited to an awards ceremony in Charleston this September to be officially recognized and have an opportunity to read their essays. The grand prize winner will then be randomly selected at the ceremony.

The “When I Grow Up” student and teacher essay contests are sponsored by SMART529, Hartford Funds and the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office to promote awareness of SMART529 and the need for higher education savings.

Those interested in watching the winners’ announcement, can find the video at

Information about this year’s essay contests were made available online, on social media, in SMART529’s school newsletter, and through direct mail publications. SMART529 is a qualified tuition program issued by the West Virginia Prepaid College Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees and administered by Hartford Funds. Complete information about SMART529 and the “When I Grow Up” essay contest is available at

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

West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Capitol Complex Building #1, Room E-145
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
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