Gov. Justice presents $50,000 checks to four of West Virginia’s highest-vaccinated middle schools through WVDE’s I Got Vaxxed Competition



 Gov. Jim Justice traveled to four of the highest-vaccinated middle schools across the state today, presenting students and staff at each school with a $50,000 check as winners in the West Virginia Department of Education’s I Got Vaxxed Competition. 

The I Got Vaxxed Competition was announced by Gov. Justice and the WVDE to encourage eligible school-aged children, faculty, and staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Through the competition, a total of 12 public and private schools – four elementary schools, four middle schools, and four high schools – with the largest percentage of eligible vaccinated staff and students will each win $50,000 to use for activities or initiatives which will improve the student experience. To encourage full participation, students were polled to have input on how they would like the funds to be used.

After the WVDE initially launched the program offering prizes of $25,000 for winning schools, Gov. Justice supplemented the competition’s funding, increasing the prize award to $50,000 to further incentivize school communities to participate.

A total of 77 public and private schools entered the competition, and all submitted vaccination data was verified by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to identify the winners. At least one winning school in each category is a private school.

The winning middle schools announced today were Andrew Jackson Middle School and Elkview Middle School in Kanawha County, Geary Elementary & Middle School in Roane County, and Morgantown Learning Academy in Monongalia County.

Winning elementary schools and high schools will be announced soon.

Gov. Justice was joined by his pet English Bulldog, Babydog, for today’s award ceremonies.
For Gov. Justice’s first stop of the day, he and Babydog traveled to greet the Andrew Jackson Middle School Knights in Cross Lanes and announce their school had won one of the $50,000 prizes.

“You guys are one of our winners,” Gov. Justice said. “With $50,000, a school like you have here with great students, great teachers, great service personnel, and great administrators can do some really great stuff. But, at the end of the day, you really need people to buy in. You did it. And I couldn’t be any more proud.”
AJMS plans to use their winnings to enhance social and emotional learning activities for students to include bi-monthly club days, pep assemblies, robotics club, and 8th grade dance. They also intend to improve wellness programs and facilities used by students for activities both during the day and after school and to improve their ability to provide various field trips of interest to students, both academically and for social/emotional growth opportunities. 

“Governor Justice, I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you and to the West Virginia Department of Education for this recognition,” said AJMS Principal Dr. Rhonda L. Donohoe. “The past 20 months have been very difficult for students and educators. All of us were very anxious to return to a somewhat normal school year. And the efforts that our community, students, and staff have taken to be vaccinated have made this all possible.

“We very much appreciate the award and want to say thank you,” Donohoe added.

Gov. Justice also recently visited AJMS to award two students with full-ride college scholarships through the “Do it for Babydog” vaccination sweepstakes.

“You guys have got an incredible school,” Gov. Justice said Tuesday. “You just keep winning at everything coming and going. And you win because you’re doing incredible stuff.”
Next, the Governor and Babydog made their way to visit the Elkview Middle School Herd, announcing that their school had also won one of the $50,000 prizes.

“What’s the probability of your school winning $50,000? It’s unbelievable, when you think about it. But you did it,” Gov. Justice said. “You were among the highest percentage of kids vaccinated of any school in the state. I congratulate you in every way.”
EMS plans to use their winnings for field trips, end of the year activities for students, and to fund additional school year activities for students, such as dances, celebrations, reward ceremonies, SEL activities/events, College and Career Exploration activities, and more.

“All of us have had a tough time with this pandemic. It’s been really hard. But we’ll get through it because of people like you,” Gov. Justice said. “A bunch of you are now eligible within the ages of 5 to 11. If you fall into that category, please talk to your parents about getting vaccinated.

“I mean it when I tell you I’m really proud of you,” Gov. Justice continued. “You have incredible teachers, service personnel, and administrators that are helping you every day. You’re going to greatness.”
Later in the day, Gov. Justice and Babydog visited the Geary Elementary & Middle School Panthers in the Roane County community of Left Hand and announced their school was another one of the $50,000 prize winners.

“You have done something that is truly unbelievable,” Gov. Justice said. “We had 77 schools across the state that tried to win. And guess who won? Geary Elementary & Middle School. You won $50,000. I truly congratulate you.”
GEMS plans to use their winnings to fix their school playground, lay down a more permanent ground cover, and improvement work on the school basketball court.

“This money is going to enable you to do all kinds of things because you have the greatest teachers, administrators, service personnel – the best of the best,” Gov. Justice said.

“This terrible pandemic has touched all of our lives in every way,” Gov. Justice continued. “But every day, we get more and more people vaccinated. Every day, we get closer and closer to where we want to be.”
Finally Tuesday, the Governor and Babydog visited students and faculty members at the Morgantown Learning Academy to announce that their school had also won one of the $50,000 grand prizes.

Morgantown Learning Academy is a non-profit, non-church-affiliated, private school for children from preschool to eighth grade. The purpose of MLA is to provide an alternative education of the highest quality for children of all racial, cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds.

“We had a contest to see what schools could get the highest percentage of their students and staff vaccinated,” Gov. Justice said. “You went up against 77 other schools that entered. And lo and behold, you won $50,000 for your school for doing such a fabulous job with your vaccinations. I’m really proud of you.”
MLA plans to use their winnings to bring back end-of-year events that were canceled last year due to the pandemic, including their Fine Arts Exhibition for families and the community, Field Day, and the pomp and circumstance of their Graduation/Promotion ceremonies.

“Your school is amazing,” Gov. Justice continued. “Your director is doing an incredible job. The teachers who are here do great work. I congratulate you, and I know you’re going to do all kinds of great stuff.”
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