Second grader Andrew Oyerly wants to someday be a factory owner. In fact, he wants to own a teddy bear factory.
He came one step closer to achieving the goal Tuesday when he was recognized as a regional winner in the annual SMART520 When I Grow Up essay contest.
State Treasurer John Perdue visited Shepherdstown Elementary to present Oyerly with $500 scholarship to be used toward his college education in conjunction with his parents' participation in the SMART529 program. He will also be recognized at a statewide awards ceremony on Sept. 18 in Charleston. At the statewide event, an overall winner will be drawn randomly from the regional winners to receive a $5,000 scholarship.
In addition to the funds invested for Andrew's education, Perdue presented a cermeonial check for $500 to his teacher, Liza Jonczak, to be used at her discretion for the school.
During his visit, Perdue shared with the second graders that his plan as a child had not been to become a state treasurer, but to be a basketball star. He also asked the children a variety of questions, offering a collector's item state quarter to several who answered or to those who asked questions of him.
Andrew was given time to read his winning essay. The text is as follows:
"When I grow up, I want to be a Teddy Bear Factory Owner because my teddy bear is the most special thing I have. My teddy bear's name is "Bear" and I sleep with him every night. Last summer I went on a tour of a teddy bear factory. I liked seeing the 6 foot bear. I want to go to college and learn how to make the best teddy bear business so that everyone can have a special bear like I do. I also want to give teddy bears to children who can't buy one."
Perdue commended Andrew, sharing that he also loved his teddy bear when he was young.
The contest, which had more than 3,000 student participants this year, is not new to the Oyerly family. Andrew's parents, Ken and Joan Oyerly, explained that their old son, Nicholas, now 17, won the contest when he was in fifth grade.
Perdue said, "This is the a first to have siblings win the contest."
Perdue went on to say that "This is my favorite thing to do as treasurer." He said that he was involved in the start of the SMART529 program and that West Virginia is ranked top in the country for its program.
"These days, education beyond high school is an essential part of ensuring a child's success," Perdue said. "This contest is a great opportunity for parents to grow their child's college fund and teach their children about the importance of saving for higher education."