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State treasurer presents cash award to St. Joseph School in Weirton

WEIRTON — West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented a $500 check to St. Joseph the Worker School Wednesday, in recognition of the school having a regional winner in the 2020 SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest.

In addition to the school receiving a $500 cash prize, regional winner Breena Bartley received $500 invested in a SMART529 account. Bartley was selected as one of 15 regional winners for writing an essay about becoming a plastic surgeon when she grows up. Bartley, who is now in fourth grade, was on hand to accept the check on behalf of the school.

Earlier this month, Treasurer Perdue celebrated the 15 regional winners with a live ceremony on the WV Treasury Facebook page. The winners read their essays for friends and family during the event. Piper Carmen of Geary Elementary in Roane County was randomly selected as the grand prize winner during the live broadcast. She received a total of $5,000 invested in a SMART529 account.

This year’s 15 regional winners were selected from more than 4,600 essays, a record-breaking number of entries.

“Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s contest,” said Treasurer Perdue. “I am thrilled that even with the pandemic, we are able to find ways to recognize these students for their achievements. We hope this contest encourages them to look to the future and know higher education is within reach.”

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. The award ceremony in Charleston was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The “When I Grow Up” essay contest is 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.

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