4 NCWV students win ‘When I Grow Up’ essay contest

West Virginia is upping the ante for students and parents trying to get a jump start on their...
West Virginia is upping the ante for students and parents trying to get a jump start on their college savings.(WV TREASURER)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 3:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - Students from Monongalia and Randolph Counties are among 15 regional student winners of this year’s SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest, according to State Treasurer Riley Moore.

The annual essay contest asks students in Kindergarten through fifth grades to write an essay about what they want to do when they grow up. Elementary school teachers can also participate by submitting an essay about how they would use the contest in the classroom to inspire their students.

“The When I Grow Up essay contest is a fantastic, inspiring experience every year as we get to hear from thousands of children from across the state about what they dream of being when they grow up,” Treasurer Moore said. “This contest gives parents an opportunity to sit down with their kids and not only talk about their dreams but start planning for how they might achieve them.”

More than 3,000 students from across West Virginia 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.

The winners are being announced just ahead of national 529 Day, an annual celebration on May 29, or 5/29, that raises awareness for 529 college savings plans around the country.

Each regional winner will receive $500 invested into a SMART529 account.

An additional $4,500 will be awarded to a grand prize winner, who will be randomly selected during a reception and ceremony Sept. 15 at the Culture Center in Charleston.

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

Below are the winners from our area, their schools and their dream professions:

  • Luke Garofoli, Kindergarten at St. Francis Central Catholic School, Monongalia County – Astronaut (Region 3)
  • Evelyn Yuhase, 3rd Grade at Mountainview Elementary, Monongalia County – Fashion Designer (Region 3)
  • Bradley Darling, 4th Grade at Mountainview Elementary, Monongalia County – Engineer (Region 3)
  • Railen Plauger, 5th Grade at Third Ward Elementary, Randolph County – Nurse for the Military (Region 4)

Below are the other winners from across the state:

  • Region One:
    • Paxton Goble, Kindergarten at Justice Elementary, Logan County – Scientist
    • Rylee Workman, 3rd Grade at St. Francis de Sales School, Raleigh County – Clothes Designer
    • Lillian Stewart, 4th Grade at Berlin McKinney Elementary, Wyoming County – Restaurant Owner
  • Region Two:
    • Joel Mitchell, Kindergarten at Kenna Elementary, Kanawha County – Engineer
    • Ella Grant, 3rd Grade at Buffalo Elementary, Putnam County – Agriculture Teacher
    • Elijah Deskins, 5th Grade at Covenant School, Cabell County – Helicopter Pilot
  • Region Four:
    • William “Liam” Garner, Kindergarten at Widmyer Elementary School, Morgan County – Astronaut
    • Naphtali Messiah Matthews, 3rd Grade at Orchard View Intermediate, Berkeley County – Speech Pathologist
  • Region Five:
    • Ryker Roberts, Kindergarten at Hilltop Elementary, Marshall County – Grocery Store Owner
    • Madeline Farnsworth, 3rd Grade at Kanawha Elementary, Wood County – Business Owner
    • Abigail Miller, 4th Grade at A.T. Allison Elementary, Hancock County – Culinary Chemist

Kindergarten through fifth grade teachers also had the opportunity to compete in the teacher portion of the essay contest.

Amanda Coon, a 5th grade teacher at C.W. Shipley Elementary in Jefferson County is the statewide teacher winner and will receive a $2,500 cash prize.