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Vic Shockey talks with Hampshire grade-school students about SMART529 essays.

Astronauts, actors, veterinarians, zookeepers and everything in-between.

 Hampshire County elementary school students have been writing essays about what careers they may want to have as adults for the annual “When I Grow Up” essay contest. 

The contest is a part of the Smart529 program administered by the office of West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue.

Jorn Otte, SMART529 representative, and Vic Shockey, regional director for the State Treasurer’s Office, visited every 1st- through 5th-grade classroom in the county to provide instruction to students and teachers on how to write a better essay for the contest. 

Otte and Shockey inspired students to think of what it is that excites them and then work with their teachers to research potential occupations that may allow them to turn those interests into a potential future career. 

Students are then encouraged to write an essay on their findings and submit it to the contest. Fifteen winners will be selected statewide from among more than 3,000 entries, with each winner receiving a $500 SMART529 scholarship, an all-expense paid trip to the event banquet in Charleston, and the chance to win the grand prize, a $5,000 SMART529 scholarship. 

The local project was a collaborative effort between Hampshire County Schools Superintendent Jeff Pancione, the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office, and Smart529.

“When the opportunity was presented to Mr. Pancione, his response was not ‘how can we,’ but ‘how quickly can we,’” Shockey said. “When it comes to educational opportunities, Mr. Pancione is caring, progressive and energetic, and it was his leadership which provided the students of Hampshire County with this highly beneficial program.  Hampshire County Schools are extremely blessed to have him.”

Shockey was also quick to point out that scheduling logistics and the actual classroom rollout of the project could not have been possible without the overwhelming hospitality and support from the principals, faculty and students of each elementary school. 

For more information about the contest, go to www.SMART529.com.

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