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Exchange honors military student with $500 prize for academic achievement

Exchange honors military student with $500 prize for academic achievement

Col. Jason Knight, 4th Mission Support Group commander, and Exchange General Manager Bill Shoffner presented You Made the Grade third-place winner Josephine Simmons with a $500 gift card in honor of her academic achievements Jan. 18, 2019, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Josephine was accompanied by her parents, Master Sgt. William Simmons and his wife, Sarah. (Courtesy photo)


Fifth-grader Josephine Simmons said she has never won anything before.

That changed when she was chosen for the $500 third-place prize in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s worldwide You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I’ve got a couple of friends who are jealous.”

Josephine received her prize at a presentation Jan. 18 at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Exchange.

“The Seymour Johnson Exchange is honored to reward Josephine for her academic achievement,” said Exchange General Manager Bill Shoffner. “Military children like Josephine work hard to maintain their grades and succeed in school, and we hope this gift shows that her efforts paid off.”

First- through 12th-graders who maintained a B average or higher could enter the sweepstakes for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. Josephine was randomly selected from nearly 600 entries.

“’People’ is one of our big priorities at Seymour Johnson, and [Josephine] is kind of representative of the people we have here that do really awesome things,” said Col. Jason Knight, 4th Mission Support Group commander, who participated in the presentation. “We love teaming up with our [Exchange] partners to do great things like this to recognize our families and Airmen.”

Josephine, 10, is the daughter of Master Sgt. William Simmons and his wife, Sarah. William has served nearly 23 years in the Air Force. The family was recently assigned to Okinawa for six years and returned to the U.S. at the beginning of this school year.

Josephine said fellow military children who transfer from an on-installation school to a civilian one should have no trouble making friends or fitting in once they move.

“Not everyone at my new school is military,” Josephine said. “But no matter how different you think you are, you can find similarities with anyone.”

Josephine is more than just an excellent student. She loves to read, especially stories with magical elements, and her favorite series are Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. She is part of the Battle of the Books team, which challenges students to read a list of books provided by the school and compete against other teams in the school district.

Along with her passion for books, Josephine is a thoughtful sister and will be sharing her winnings with her two older sisters, who also entered the You Made the Grade sweepstakes this year and were surprised when Josephine won. But how are they splitting the money?

“I get two parts and they get one,” Josephine said.

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