4 students and a teacher from north central WV honored with SMART529 awards

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – During a Facebook Live event, Friday, 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 coincided with the national 529 Day, an annual celebration on May 29 to recognize 529 college savings plans around the country.

“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 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.

“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.

Tamara Klemkowsky, a second grade teacher at Suncrest Elementary School, in Monongalia County, won the statewide teacher award. Below is a complete list of the student winners:

Winner’s NameGradeSchoolCountyOccupation
Madison Barnes1stMemorial PrimaryMercerPediatric Audiologist
Mya Scyphers2ndSun Valley ElementaryMercerLibrarian
Lauren Hensley5thChapmanville Middle SchoolLoganChild Psychologist
Piper Ann Carmen1stGeary Elementary MiddleRoaneNurse
Charlotte Holley3rdAlban ElementaryKanawhaAuthor
Sophi Seay4thHurricane Town ElementaryPutnamBaker
Noah Schoenberger1stBrookhaven ElementaryMonongaliaAuthor and Illustrator
Dylan Roth3rdLumberport ElementaryHarrisonScientist
Isabelle Ringler5thEastwood ElementaryMonongaliaTeacher
Brooklyn Maxwell1stRomney ElementaryHampshireLandscape Architect
Dominic Snyder3rdTomahawk IntermediateBerkeleyArchitect
Makinly Shaffer4thAugusta ElementaryHampshireDermatologist
Cameron MitchellKDoddridge Co. ElementaryDoddridgeChef
Breena Bartley3rdSt. Joseph’s the Worker Grade SchoolHancockPlastic Surgeon
Luchia Fato4thWheeling Country Day SchoolOhioCardiologist

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