2013-06-12 / News

Poniris wins state essay contest for helping students envision the future

by Kate Shunney


Shanna Poniris, third grade teacher at Paw Paw Elementary, won $2,500 for an essay contest sponsored by State Treasurer John Perdue, right. Shanna Poniris, third grade teacher at Paw Paw Elementary, won $2,500 for an essay contest sponsored by State Treasurer John Perdue, right. Shanna Poniris, third grade teacher at Paw Paw Elementary, was the winner of this year’s teacher award in the “When I Grow Up” contest, sponsored by the West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and insurance company The Hartford.

Poniris won $2,500 for her description of how she would help her students craft essays for the contest.

She asked her students to complete the phrase, “When I grow up, I want to be ...” and decide what steps they would take to achieve that goal.

To add some excitement to the lesson, Poniris arranged to bury a time capsule holding the students’ essays at Paw Paw School.

The students will dig up the capsule in 2023, the year they graduate from high school.

John Perdue made the trip to Paw Paw on Wednesday, May 22 to watch the time capsule event and talk to students.


Justice McCoy read her essay “When I Grow Up,” to classmates and State Treasurer John Perdue. Justice McCoy read her essay “When I Grow Up,” to classmates and State Treasurer John Perdue. “The most important thing you can do is work hard, continue those dreams and go to college,” Perdue told students as they stood under a shade tree in front of the school.

“The doors of opportunity are going to be open to you. Going to college will help open those doors,” he said.

Perdue said he grew up poor in Boone County as the son of parents who hadn’t completed high school.

“But a teacher recognized I could go to college,” he said.

Big plans

Students read their short essays before rolling them into a tube and sliding them into the time capsule along with small mementos from home like coins, buttons or tiny toys.


Keira Smith, third grader at Paw Paw Elementary, read her essay about wanting to become a veterinarian when she grows up. Keira Smith, third grader at Paw Paw Elementary, read her essay about wanting to become a veterinarian when she grows up. Jacob Moreland said he hoped to be an inventor, designing a hovercraft.

Ezekiel Hall said he wants to be an artist. Justice McCoy and Keira Smith said they’d like to be veterinarians.

Hannah Thompson wants to become a race horse vet. Summer Flint is interested in being an animal caregiver when she grows up.

Kaydence Watson said she would like to become a doctor, as would Emily Maguire who has an interest in being a cancer specialist.

Chloe Beatty and Zoie Moreland both want to be artists in the future.

Damen Watson hopes to be a zookeeper and Meghan Thompson and Addison Ross both want to be a chef.

Makiya Enos-Spenser will be a dentist.. Jackson Miller plans to be a highway worker, he said.

Levi Shambaugh wants to become a professional hunter, preferably his own TV show. Quentin Waugh is planning to be a professional video game player.

John Perdue said he wanted to become a basketball player when he was young, since he was so tall, but he opted to pursue banking instead.

A key to the time capsule will be kept in the school safe.

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