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West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented a $500 check to Tomahawk Intermediate School in Berkeley County today, as part of the tenth annual SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest.

Third grade student Syrah George is one of 15 regional winners. As a result, her school received a $500 cash award.

Picture from left to right: Teena Hine, Teacher; Principal Paul Tyson; State Treasurer John Perdue; Syrah George, regional winner; Elizabeth Adams, mother.

“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 also recognized George for her award-winning essay. She wrote about becoming a dance teacher when she grows up.

“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.

More than 3,200 students in kindergarten through fifth grade participated in this year’s contest. The 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 Hartford Life.
For more information on the contest, log onto

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