Press Releases

Annual contest sees record-breaking participation numbers

During a Facebook Live event this morning on the WV Treasury Facebook page, West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue announced the 15 regional winners and statewide teacher winner of this year’s SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest. The announcement coincides with the national 529 Day, an annual celebration on May 29 (5/29) to recognize 529 college savings plans around the country.

Parents, students and educators from around the state joined the live event at 10 a.m. today on Facebook to watch the announcement and learn more about the SMART529 program and 529 Day.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t visit these students in person at their schools this year, but a live online event was the next best thing, and still an exciting way to recognize these winners,” said Treasurer Perdue.

In its thirteenth 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.

“We rely on teachers to emphasize the importance of saving for higher education. I am thrilled we are able to reward one of them for making a special effort to encourage students to think beyond high school,” said Perdue.

This year’s contest, which launched in January, saw its highest number of participants ever with 4,662 students around the state submitting entries. Essays from three age groups (grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) were judged in each of the five 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.

Typically, Treasurer Perdue visits the “When I Grow Up” regional winners at their schools in the spring to award the cash prizes to the schools. The winners are then officially recognized and have an opportunity to read their essays at an awards ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in September. The grand prize winner is randomly selected at that ceremony. Spring school visits were canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. There is no decision yet on whether the fall ceremony will take place in person this year.

“Our announcement of this year’s essay contest winners may look different, and our celebration of 529 Day may be completely online, but our goals have not changed. We want to make people aware of the benefits of long-term savings with a SMART529 educational savings account,” Perdue said.

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 wanting to see a recording of the Facebook Live event should visit www.facebook.com/WVTreasury or go to www.wvtreasury.com for more information. A complete list of the student winners is on the next page.

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 www.SMART529.com.

2020 “When I Grow Up” Contest Student Winners

Winner’s Name

Grade

School

County

Occupation

Madison Barnes

1st

Memorial Primary

Mercer

Pediatric Audiologist

Mya Scyphers

2nd

Sun Valley Elementary

Mercer

Librarian

Lauren Hensley

5th

Chapmanville Middle School

Logan

Child Psychologist

Piper Ann Carmen

1st

Geary Elementary Middle

Roane

Nurse

Charlotte Holley

3rd

Alban Elementary

Kanawha

Author

Sophi Seay

4th

Hurricane Town Elementary

Putnam

Baker

Noah Schoenberger

1st

Brookhaven Elementary

Monongalia

Author and Illustrator

Dylan Roth

3rd

Lumberport Elementary

Harrison

Scientist

Isabelle Ringler

5th

Eastwood Elementary

Monongalia

Teacher

Brooklyn Maxwell

1st

Romney Elementary

Hampshire

Landscape Architect

Dominic Snyder

3rd

Tomahawk Intermediate

Berkeley

Architect

Makinly Shaffer

4th

Augusta Elementary

Hampshire

Dermatologist

Cameron Mitchell

K

Doddridge Co. Elementary

Doddridge

Chef

Breena Bartley

3rd

St. Joseph’s the Worker Grade School

Hancock

Plastic Surgeon

Luchia Fato

4th

Wheeling Country Day School

Ohio

Cardiologist

2020 “When I Grow Up” Contest Statewide Teacher Winner

Teacher’s Name

Grade

School

County

Tamara Klemkowsky

2nd

Suncrest Elementary

Monongalia






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