WEIRTON - Two sixth-graders at Follansbee Middle School are winners of a statewide contest that challenged them to consider how they could help if their family faced a financial crisis.
Jena Riccelli and Taylor Pannett, both pupils of Dana Durbin, placed first and second, respectively, for their grade division in the contest, which asked pupils in grades 6-8 to describe what they could do if one of their parents became unemployed.
State Treasurer John Perdue, whose office was involved with the contest, said the pupils were asked such questions as how they could help their family, where could the family cut spending and how a budget could help a family prepare for such a situation.
The daughter of Chad Riccelli of Follansbee and the late Christy Riccelli, Riccelli will have $200 invested into a SMART 529 college savings account in her name.
Pannett, who is the daughter of Tim and Amy Pannett, will have $100 invested into a SMART 529 account in her name.
The SMART 529 plan allows individuals to make tax-deferred contributions toward a state-managed college savings fund in the name of a West Virginia resident.
As winners for grades 6-8, seven students won a total of $1,400 for college savings accounts in their name.
Riccelli and Pannett were presented certificates for their achievement at a luncheon held during a Money Smart Week program held by West Virginia AARP with the aid of several state agencies at the Weirton Holiday Inn.
The program was aimed at educating senior citizens about credit ratings, investment frauds, identity theft and other financial issues.
Asked about her essay, Riccelli said she suggested she could pick up a newspaper route or cut neighbors' grass to raise money for her family.
She also suggested the family could cut non-essential items, such as decorations, from their spending for a while.
Pannett said in addition to seeking odd jobs, she could share the money she receives from babysitting and set aside some money in a savings account for future expenses, such as college.