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State Treasurer Riley Moore on Thursday announced the grand prize winner of this year’s SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest during a Facebook Live event on the WV Treasury Facebook page.

The 15 regional winners, which were announced earlier this year, and their parents joined the live event at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Grand prize winner Aurora Kibble

Aurora Kibble of Parkersburg Catholic Elementary in Wood County was randomly selected as the grand prize winner during the live event.

Kibble, who is now in first grade, wrote about her dream of becoming a surgeon. She said she was inspired to choose the profession because a surgeon once saved her father’s life by correcting a heart condition. She will receive a total of $5,000 invested in a SMART529 Direct account.

“It was a joy to hear from each of the winners and listen to their essays about what they want to be when they grow up,” Treasurer Moore said. “This program inspires our children and reminds us as parents that we must begin preparing for their future at an early age.”

In its 14th 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. Each regional winner’s school will also be awarded a $500 cash prize to support school programs.

In addition to the student winners, Kishia Stapleton, a fourth-grade teacher at Chapmanville Intermediate in Monongalia County, was recognized as the teacher contest winner. She received a $2,500 cash prize for her essay about how she planned to educate her students about going to college and saving with the SMART529 program.

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.

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

To see a recording of the Facebook Live event visit or go to for more information.

The regional winners, their schools and their dream professions are: 

2021 “When I Grow Up” Contest Student Winners

*Grade levels as of the 2020-2021 school year and time of the contest

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 

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

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