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Preschooler wins cash for college

Oxford resident Drew Szymanski poses with the $1,500 check he won for his future college education. Hell turn 4 in November. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011 - Little Drew Szymanski won't be heading off to college for at least another 14 years, but he's already off to a terrific start as far as saving for his future education.

The Oxford resident, who will turn 4 in November, recently won $1,500 for his college education through the Destination College Savings Sweepstakes.

"It was actually my birthday when we got the news, so it was a very exciting present," said Drew's mother, Marie Szymanski, who entered the contest on his behalf when she signed him up for the Oxford Public Library's summer reading program. "The money will come in handy when he needs it."

"We're really grateful and thankful that the (Oxford) library decided to participate in the program and give us the opportunity to get his college fund started early," she noted.

Sponsored by the Michigan Education Savings Program, Michigan Education Trust and the Library Foundation of Michigan, the sweepstakes was open to the parents of children 13 and under who participated in summer reading programs through their local libraries.

A total of 12 winners were selected statewide from among close to 5,000 entries.

"Drew loves reading and we've always been very active in the library's youth programs ever since he was a year old," said Marie, who noted her son is a preschooler at St. Joseph Catholic School in Orion. "We've always had really good, positive experiences."

This year, a total of 610 kids signed up for the Oxford library's summer reading program.

Overall, the Szymanski family are big fans of the Oxford Public Library, which is located at 530 Pontiac Rd.

"I love the community feel to it," Marie explained. "I think the youth department does a really nice job with their programs. The singing, finger plays, and arts and crafts, combined with the books, get the kids off to a good start developing a healthy reading habit."

"Drew's a smart little boy and I really feel that the library programs have contributed to his love of learning and reading," she added.

But Drew Szymanski isn't the only one who's getting a big check. As part of the sweepstakes, the Oxford library will receive $1,000 in prize money.

"We're not sure yet what we want to do with it," said Shae Smith, head of youth services at the library. "We're thinking of several things things that wouldn't ordinarily come out of our regular budget for the children's department."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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