Generic Medals Awards Competition Pixabay

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Kai Carney, a student at The Sycamore School in Arlington, is one of only 45 students nationwide – and the only student in Virginia – recognized recently as an honorable-mention award recipient of the fourth annual PAYBACK Challenge Scholarship Contest.

The scholarship is awarded each year by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), a nonprofit committed to ensuring that all students leave high school with the financial skills needed to thrive in the future. Each winner receives a $1,000 scholarship for educational pursuits.

Students participating in the NGPF Payback Challenge played PAYBACK, an award-winning college-simulation game, and then chose either to write an essay or to create a video on the topic.

“The Sycamore School gave me the confidence to try the contest,” said Carney, who intends to study science in college.

Nearly 1,000 teachers nominated the best student essay from their classes. Submissions were evaluated based on creativity, clarity, and a demonstrated understanding of key concepts learned from playing PAYBACK.

Sycamore School teacher Jonathon McKenney reviewed all the entries submitted as part of the school-wide contest and selected Kai’s essay, which was “humorous and addressed the prompt well.”

For information on The Sycamore School, see the Website at