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Dollars and Sense: MAHS students learn about the cold realities of dealing with money

By David Barr, davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 3/15/17

The old saying goes that money talks, and it was speaking loud and clear to Middletown Area High School seniors Friday, March 10.

Students participated in Junior Achievement’s “Real …

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Dollars and Sense: MAHS students learn about the cold realities of dealing with money

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The old saying goes that money talks, and it was speaking loud and clear to Middletown Area High School seniors Friday, March 10.

Students participated in Junior Achievement’s “Real Life” program, receiving a crash course in all things financial. They learned about topics such as budgeting, insurance and financial planning. According to its website, Junior Achievement is “the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship, through experimental, hands-on programs.”

Several business volunteers educated the students by sharing their financial expertise as they navigated the world of money through various games, activities, and simulations.

Business teacher Kirsti Larsen described the day’s activities as a great opportunity for all seniors to receive financial education because they will be out on their own soon. One of Larsen’s classes is called “Money Matters,” but as it an elective, not every student enrolls in it. Friday’s activities allowed the seniors not in her class to experience a taste of what they are missing.

“Every single student will benefit from this type of day,” Larsen said. “The activities drive home that this is something they’ll need in the future.”

Students were quick to echo Larsen’s belief that they would benefit from the day’s events.

The team of Connor Gambini, James Fitzpatrick and Dae’Neshya Collins discovered via the Budget Builder activity just how quickly little things like gas purchases and medical expenses can impact a person’s budget. The trio managed to perform well in the Real Life competition and finished with $123,000 at the end of the game.

“It helps you get realistic,” Gambini said of the day’s events.

Students were split into groups for the day’s events. Half participated in the Budget Builder activity and the other half participated in the games and other activities. After lunch, students switched roles.

Events included Budget Builder, Financial Jenga, Insurance Jeopardy, The Price is Wrong, and The Real Life Game.

In Budget Builder, students found themselves in a role-playing situation where they were given a life situation role, which dictated their adult persona, marital status, number of children, education, employment and income. Students then were faced with various financial situations that had to be dealt with immediately, learning how much money they have to use after taxes and after their budget is completed.

Financial Jenga was a team competition. Students attempted to remove Jenga pieces from the tower and had to answer financial questions that were associated with each block.

During Insurance Jeopardy, students worked together to answer insurance questions.

Students playing The Price is Wrong game were taught about pricing and how this can affect one’s budget. First, students were given five groups of items and had to match the correct price to each item in the group. Points were awarded for each correctly matched price and item. In the second part of this session, students were challenged to purchase five items of clothing for less than $200.

For The Real Life Game competition, based off the Milton Bradley board game “The Game of Life,” students played a life-sized version of the board game in which students had to choose wisely to be successful in this game.

Andrew Bogardus and other members in his group, Nikole Burrows, Gabriella Carter and Joshua Brown, discovered the importance of how quickly money can leave a person’s pocket and how the choices people make in their younger years can affect them when they are older. Possibly most importantly, they were able to understand the adage “money doesn’t grow on trees” is true and that when it comes to understanding prices and budgets, it’s different when their parents aren’t footing the bill.

“The price of things is incredible,” Bogardus said. “This is something we’re going to use. This is going to apply to everybody. Everything revolves around money.”

“Today was really important,” Carter said. “It’s definitely something they should continue.”

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