Press Releases

Regional winners share in $12,000 in SMART529 savings

During a Facebook Live event today on the WV Treasury Facebook page, West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue announced the grand prize winner of this year’s SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest. The announcement kicks off a month-long national awareness campaign celebrating September as College Savings Month.

The 15 regional winners and their parents joined the live event at 2 p.m. today on Facebook. Piper Carmen of Geary Elementary in Roane County was randomly selected as the grand prize winner during the live event. Piper, who will be in second grade this upcoming school year, wrote about becoming a nurse when she grows up. She will receive a total of $5,000 invested in a SMART529 Direct account.

Each regional winner was given the opportunity to read their essays for teachers, friends and family members watching from home. The regional winners were first announced during a Facebook Live event in May. Each winner received $500 invested into a SMART529 WV Direct Account. Each winning student’s school was also recognized and awarded a $500 cash prize to support school programs. This year’s 15 regional winners were selected from more than 4,600 essays, a record-breaking number of entries.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t recognize these student achievements in person this year, but we hope that the students and their parents enjoyed having their extended family and friends take part in the celebration with a live online event,” said Treasurer Perdue.

In its thirteenth year, the SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest gives kindergarten through fifth grade students a chance to share in $12,000 in SMART529 savings for higher education. 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 winners.

Typically, Treasurer Perdue recognizes the “When I Grow Up” regional winners at an awards ceremony at the West Virginia State Culture Center as well as spring events at each winning student’s school. Both the spring visits and the award ceremony in Charleston were canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our celebration may look a little different this year, but these student’s achievements, and the message that goes along with the “When I Grow Up” contest are just as important,” Perdue said. “We want to encourage children to set a goal for an education beyond high school and make people aware of the benefits of saving with a SMART529 education savings account.”

In addition to the student winners, Tamara Klemkowsky, a second-grade teacher at Suncrest Elementary School 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.

To see a recording of the Facebook Live event 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 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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