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Regional winners share in nearly $20,000 in SMART529 savings

Fifteen West Virginia school children are on their way to a brighter future, after winning regional awards in the eighth annual SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest. State Treasurer John Perdue recognized the winners Thursday morning during a ceremony at the West Virginia State Culture Center.

The 15 winning essays were selected out of more than 3,000 entries from all over West Virginia. Each winner received $500 invested into a SMART529 WV Direct account. An additional $4,500 in a SMART529 account was awarded to the grand prize winner, whose name was selected during a random drawing at the event. Each winning student’s school was also recognized and awarded a $500 cash prize to support school programs.

“I want all of you to be successful,” Perdue told the winners. “The best way to guarantee success is by continuing your education after high school.”

The contest gives kindergarten through fifth grade students a chance to share in nearly
$20,000 in SMART529 savings for higher education. Three age group winners (K-1, 2- 3, 4-5) were judged in each of the five regions, making for a total of 15 winners.

Former Charleston Daily Mail Editor and Publisher Nanya Friend and retired educator Sallye Clark judged the entries. Essays were judged on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.

2015 Teachers’ Contest Winner

In addition to the student winners, Huff Consolidated Elementary and Middle School teacher Jaquetta Lester was awarded $2,500 cash for her essay about how she planned to educate children about going to college and saving with the SMART529 program. The teachers’ entries were judge by Terry Reale, a consultant with the West Virginia Department of Education.
“We rely on teachers to emphsize the importance of saving for higher education. Iam thrilled to continue a program that will reward them for making a special effort to encourage their students to think beyond high school,” said Perdue.

The “When I Grow Up” student and teacher essay contests are sponsored by the SMART529 College Savings Program, The Hartford 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 through , in the SMART529 program’s school newsletter and 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 Life. Complete information about the SMART529 program and contests is available at

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