HARTFORD, Conn., May 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The statewide 2015 CHET Dream Big! Competition, which asks students to share their dreams about life after college through drawings and essays, selected 84 winners from across the state out of more than 6,200 entries – the most ever in the program's eight-year history.
Aspiring doctors, police officers, teachers, scientists, charity workers, veterinarians, musicians, artists, writers and more participated in this year's competition, which drew entries from schools in 135 of the State's 169 municipalities.
Four grand prize winners will each receive a $1,000 contribution to a CHET college savings account, and 80 additional students in kindergarten through eighth grade will receive $500 contributions.
"This year's entries reflect how keenly aware Connecticut students are of their communities and of the world around them, and how motivated they are to make a difference," said State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, Trustee of the Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET). "The consistent theme from the kindergarten drawings to the 8th grade essays is a great desire to make the world a better place to live and help others."
All the winners were recognized at a lively ceremony attended by approximately 300 students, parents and educators on May 28 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, with Scot Haney of WFSB-TV Channel 3 as the Master of Ceremonies. Treasurer Nappier presented plaques to each student winner.
Historically a contest for kindergarten through 5th grade, Dream Big! was expanded this year to include 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. More than 1,150 students in the new grade levels took advantage of the opportunity to submit essays that answered the question, "How will I change the world after I go to college?"
Fourth and fifth graders also submitted essays while kindergarten to third grade students were asked to share what they want to do after college through a drawing.
"As Trustee of CHET, my hope is every child will have the ability to pursue higher education. For some students, Dream Big! is their first introduction to the idea of going to college and encourages them to dream beyond boundaries," said Treasurer Nappier. "Whether college is a decade away or just around the corner, we hope that every student who submitted an entry stays focused on preparing, both academically and financially, for college."
Eight $500 School Prizes Awarded to Top School in Each County
This year's competition also included school prizes. Eight schools, one in each county, won a $500 top school prize for submitting the highest number of entries on behalf of students in that county.
Smalley Academy in New Britain, the winner in Hartford County, submitted the highest number of entries statewide with 539 students entering the competition. Additional school winners were: Madison Elementary School, Bridgeport (Fairfield County), Sarah Noble Intermediate School, New Milford (Litchfield County), Macdonough School, Middletown, (Middlesex County), John C. Prendergast School, Ansonia (New Haven County), Lisbon Central School, Lisbon (New London County), George Hersey Robertson Intermediate School, Coventry (Tolland County), and Woodstock Elementary School, Woodstock (Windham County).
At the awards ceremony, the 21 teachers statewide who had the highest student participation received certificates. Four teachers each from Bridgeport and New Britain, three from Manchester, two each from Bethel and Hartford, and one each from East Hartford, Meriden, New Fairfield, New Haven, Norwalk, and Wolcott were recognized. "We know these teachers not only encouraged students to participate in this year's competition, but inspire students to Dream Big! every day and are truly making a difference in the lives of their students," Haney said.
The Dream Big! Competition is administered under the banner of the Connecticut Higher Education Trust. It is funded by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc., the program manager; no state funds will be used for awards issued through the Dream Big! competition.
The Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET) direct-sold college savings plan was established in 1997 and as of December 31, 2014 has grown to more than $2.6 billion in assets and 110,000 accounts. More than $1 billion has been withdrawn from CHET accounts to help more than 30,000 students pay for college expenses. Funds deposited into a CHET account have tax advantages and can be used at accredited colleges and universities across the country, including vocational and technical schools, and some colleges abroad.
For more information about CHET, visit www.aboutchet.com or call the customer service center at (866) 314-3939.
SOURCE Office Of State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier