CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore has recently announced the 15 regional student winners and statewide teacher winner for the 15th anniversary SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest.

“This annual essay contest is a great way for parents to sit down and talk with their children about the future and what they want to be when they grow up,” Treasurer Moore said. “It inspires kids to dream and start thinking about how they want to accomplish those dreams.”

As part of the contest, students from kindergarten through fifth grade were asked to write about what they want to be when they grow up. As for the teachers, they submitted an essay of their own about “how they would use the contest in the classroom.”

Each regional winner will receive $500 that will be invested into a SMART529 account with the grand prize winner receiving an additional $4,500. On Sept. 16, the grand prize winner will be randomly selected during a ceremony at the Culture Center in Charleston.

The school of each regional winner will also be awarded a $500 to support school programs.

More than 2,800 students were placed into three age groups (grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) and divided by the five geographic regions of West Virginia, a step up from last year’s online contest. As a result, a total of 15 regional winners were selected.

2021 “When I Grow Up” Contest Student Winners

Region One:

Benjamin Russell, 1st Grade at Chapmanville Primary School, Logan County – Primatologist

Malik Mohammed, 3rd Grade at Maxwell Hill Elementary, Raleigh County – Botanist

Jersey Gruskievich, 5th Grade at Talcott Elementary, Summers County – Social Worker

Region Two:

Aletheia Goodwin, Kindergarten Home School Student, Cabell County – Zookeeper

Hayden Vernon, 3rd Grade at Point Harmony Elementary, Kanawha County – Marine Biologist

Emma Elizabeth Bonar, 5th Grade at Prichard Elementary, Wayne County – Children’s Counselor

Region Three:

Alexander Ammons, Kindergarten at East Dale Elementary, Marion County – Geologist

Sam Goodwin, 3rd Grade at Eastwood Elementary, Monongalia County – Seismologist

Silas Michael Scott, 4th Grade at Nutter Fort Intermediate, Harrison County – Architect

Region Four:

Ethan Smith, 1st Grade at Driswood Elementary, Jefferson County – Structural Collapse Rescue Technician

Ellie Eisenbrey, 3rd Grade Home School Student, Randolph County – Activist & Engineer

Weston Higson, 4th Grade at Frankfort Intermediate, Mineral County – Fisheries Biologist

Region Five:

Kambri Neill, Kindergarten at St. Mary Catholic School, Wood County – Veterinarian

Gianna Capri White, 3rd Grade at Our Lady of Peace School, Marshall County – Surgical Oncologist

Lacey Pauley, 5th Grade at Steenrod Elementary, Ohio County – Marine Biologist

Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers also had the opportunity to compete in the teacher portion of the essay contest. This year’s winning teacher will receive a $2,500 cash prize.

2022 ‘When I Grow Up’ Statewide Teacher Winner:

Robin Chancey, 5th Grade, Kenna Elementary, Jackson County