Thrifty thoughts earn prizes for MVSB essay contest winners


Three students at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) wrote winning essays in a contest sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank (MVSB). Sharing their thoughts about saving money and budgeting recently paid off for sixth-graders Kyra Whalen and Cyrus Kennedy, and fifth-grader Danielle Hopkins.

Their winning essays are available online at

As first-place winner, Kyra received a $200 savings bond, Cyrus a $100 savings bond for second place, and Danielle a $50 savings bond for third place.

The three students received their prizes Monday at a presentation ceremony at the MVSB’s Vineyard Haven branch. All of them are students of Amy Reece, the charter school’s grade 5-6 English language arts teacher.

Bank president and chief operating officer Christopher Wells and executive assistant Patti Leighton presented the students with their awards.

Ms. Leighton coordinated and ran the contest, which was held by the MVSB in honor of “National Teach Children to Save Day” on April 27, a national event developed by the American Bankers Association (ABA) Education Foundation.

The contest was open to students Islandwide, including home-schooled students, in grades 5-7. Ms. Leighton said about 60 students submitted entries, 19 of them from the charter school.

Ms. Leighton provided a choice of two essay topics: explain what makes a successful saver, earner, spender and investor, or, explain how a high school student named David would achieve his goal of buying a computer with a budget.

Kyra, who wrote on the first topic, said her first-place win came as a surprise, especially when Ms. Reece announced it with shrieks of excitement in the school hallway.

In explaining what being a saver, earner, spender and investor means, Kyra related the terms to her own experiences. For example, she noted that as a saver, she banks one dollar every Thursday towards college, and the interest she earns on her savings makes her an investor.

Mr. Wells complimented Cyrus for taking an interesting approach in choosing the second topic. In order for the fictional David to achieve his savings goal faster, Cyrus recommended he should spend less money by cutting back on luxuries, which would give him more money to put towards savings. Cyrus also suggested that David buy a used or refurbished model. Cyrus is putting his advice into practice, as he also is saving for a computer.

Mr. Wells noted that in writing on the same topic as Kyra, Danielle touched on an important basic concept, that a person has to earn money in order to save it. She also injected a little humor into her explanation about saving money.

“Last you can put your money in a piggy bank, under a mattress, or dig a hole in your backyard and bury your money,” Danielle wrote, adding, “I’m really just kidding about the last two suggestions.”

Ms. Reece attended Monday’s event, along with the three students’ family members. They included Kyra’s parents, Sharon and David Whalen of Tisbury, and her brother Charlie, a fourth-grade at the charter school; Cyrus’s mother, Elsa Starr of Chilmark, and his sister, Violet, a fifth-grader at the charter school; and Danielle’s parents, Kimberly Cartwright and Ewell Hopkins of Oak Bluffs.

The contest’s panel of judges included former Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) principal Margaret (Peg) Regan, MVRHS English teacher Todd Sawyer, and Ann Tyra, a member of the MVSB Board of Trustees.

In addition to MVSB’s economic literacy program, the bank offers a school savings program at all of the Island schools. If students have deposited money into their accounts every week from September through June, they are acknowledged and recognized as “Super Savers” at their school’s award ceremonies at end of the year.

In addition, each Super Saver receives a $10 deposit to their account and their names go into a pool for one winner at their school for a savings bond.