Like a true teacher, Jeremy Smith puts his money where his heart is - right into his classroom.
Smith, who won $1,120 for solving the "Puzzle Me Carson City" treasure hunt, will use the winnings for his Eagle Valley Middle School classroom, where he will begin teaching English this fall.
"I love puzzles," he said. "And (the treasure hunt) was competitive, and I love that."
Forty-one people entered the 12-step puzzle contest, created by Steve Lang, an IT manager in the legal division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, who wanted to raise money for the school district's gifted and talented students, a group, he says, that is often overlooked.
Entry fees from the contest, totaling $974, were donated to the district's Gifted and Academically Talented program, or GATE. Dr. Keith Croskery, program head, said he does not yet know how the money will be used. Smith's prize money came from private and business donors.
Smith, previously a teacher for the Douglas County School District, grew up in Carson City schools and was once part of Project Challenge, the then-gifted and talented program offered by the school district.
He was the first to solve five of the individual 12 puzzles and the first to solve the overall solution, which was a Mark Twain quote. Smith completed the solution in a month and five days.
"Some (of the puzzles) were easy," he said. "Some you had to stare at, and then put the paper down and come back a few days later," he said.
His parents Shirley and Larry attended the awards ceremony Tuesday afternoon outside the Legislative building.
Were they surprised he had done so well? His mom said no, but his dad said yes.
"He was having a tough time with some of the puzzles," Larry explained. "I think the hardest part (of the challenge) was that to solve some of the puzzles you had to know a lot about Carson City."
Also attending the awards ceremony were the two members of Team Joel - father Rod Hines and son, Joel Hines, 10. The pair was the first to complete two of the 12 puzzles and received a $40 check.
"It's good it's done during the summer," Joel said. "I didn't have school stuff. My dad had to work, or we probably would've gotten more puzzles done, like eight or nine."
Lang, the puzzle creator, has made several more puzzles, and might host a second contest later.
The district's gifted and talented program serves more than 600 students and is expanding in the fall to offer programs on early-release professional development days.
"I would have been a lot happier (raising) a lot more money, but every little bit helps," Lang said.
Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.