High school students from all three Delaware counties were recently represented at the Delaware Personal Finance Challenge (PFC) State Championship in Newark. They were invited by the University of Delaware Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) in the Alfred Lerner College of Commerce and Economics. The event was sponsored by Bank of America. This year’s PFC was the first in-person contest organized by the CEEE since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nine teams from eight schools competed for the chance to win $500 per team member per teacher, as well as a chance to qualify for the national championship and an all-expenses-paid trip to New York.
Participating PFC high schools included St. Mark’s, Middletown, Odessa, two Odyssey Charter teams, Smyrna, Newark Charter, Woodbridge and Appoquinimink. Each team consisted of four members. The challenge consisted of three sets of testing exercises with individual student testing in the first two rounds and team collaboration for the third. Scores from each round were tallied and a leaderboard updated on the results throughout the day. Between tests, Bank of America volunteers handed out fun giveaways in a trivia contest, held while scores were compiled. Students from each team scoring the most points in each of the first two rounds of testing were given the opportunity to choose from a wall of cash envelopes, filled with monetary rewards ranging from $5 to $20.
“The PFC provides high school students with a fun and competitive experience in which they can develop, demonstrate and be rewarded for their knowledge of prudent money management,” said Gail Colbert, CEEE Personal Finance Coordinator. “Teams like to show off their expertise in the concepts of earning income, spending, saving, investing, managing credit and managing risk.”
Colbert said providing engaging opportunities to reinforce this learning makes it easier for teachers to implement personal finance education to meet Delaware’s financial literacy standards.
A group of students from Newark Charter’s Personal Finance Club scored the most points after all three rounds of challenges, also beating students from St. Mark’s High School in the Quiz Bowl – a quick quiz battle where the top two finishers scoring teams face off in an exciting and fiercely competitive buzzer.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to come out and show how much they’ve learned from such a hands-on course,” said Justin Miller, personal finance professor at Newark Charter.
“I’ve had teachers stop me in the hallway and say, ‘Oh my God. I wish I had this class when I was in high school,” Miller said. He added that word of mouth from students who have already taken his course – a course that follows the curriculum written by the CEEE – has made it so popular. They learn about credit, balancing a checkbook, planning for retirement, investing in the stock market and insurance.
“It’s great to see that the students have the opportunity to show what they have learned. Earning money afterwards is even better,” he said.
Every Delaware school where personal finance is taught is invited to have students participate in an online preliminary round to qualify them for the state finals. Topics covered included lessons from CEEE’s Keys to Financial Success course, which incorporates personal finance topics such as earnings and income, protection and insurance, using credit when buying goods and of services, as well as savings and financial investment.
Bank of America, which has sponsored the contest for more than a decade and since its inception, again provided volunteers for the event who acted as proctors and judges.
“At Bank of America, we have one goal and that is to make life better financially. And that’s why we believe so strongly in the work that the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship does to teach our young people. personal finance and economics, to give students a great foundation for their financial future,” said Connie Montana, community relations manager and senior vice president at Bank of America. Montana led the applause from teachers and thanked them for preparing the students and taking the time to bring them to the event.
“Congratulations to each of the teams and each of you for being here,” Montana said. “You are already investing in yourself. You are already ahead of the game. So many students in our country do not receive personal financial or economic education.
Noah Qasim competed as a member of Newark Charter School’s state champion team. A junior at school, he and his friends trained together for the event and coordinated their matching wardrobes of pink shirts, to match their pants and ties.
“Last night we were talking among ourselves and we wanted something a little subtle, something a little classy; something that would really stand out in front of the crowd,” Qasim said. “We already knew we were going to come here and dominate, but we wanted to add the finishing touch to the picture,” he said.
If winning wasn’t already impressive enough, Alex Esenyan, who acted as Team Newark Charter’s spokesperson during the Quiz Bowl, said he’s heading to Georgetown University in the fall. to continue his business studies and that he already had a ROTH IRA. as a high school student. Speaking of speaking, he and his friends plan to invest rather than spend the $500 they earned.
“When we started preparing for this competition, we all knew that personal finances were important, but we didn’t know as much as we do today,” Esenyan said. “So the things we learned in the competition, we’re now able to apply and apply in our own world, focusing on improvement to make sure we’re financially free or independent at home. ‘adulthood.”
Students from St. Mark’s High School came second, with team members each receiving cash prizes of $250. Will Simpson, their personal finance teacher, competed in the event five years ago, winning the championship once and placing second twice. He said his students are always eager to participate in PFC.
“For them, money is really important, but I hear them say things like, ‘I know how to be an adult.’ That’s a pretty cool testimonial; they like it. They love coming here,” Simpson said.
A group of second year students from Woodbridge High School in Greenwood begged their teacher to drive them an hour and a half from Kent to New Castle County for the competition. The students began taking Josh Getka’s personal finance course in September and began to learn a lot of new information that had previously been obscure to them – on topics such as Social Security taxes, investing, interest rates. interest, etc.
Getka said the area he teaches in has a high rate of poverty and is home to many people learning to speak English as a second language. They fall prey to payday loan agencies and predatory student loan practices. They don’t have the financial literacy to fight this. Empowering themselves to learn personal finance knowledge and skills provides them with alternatives and ways to avoid these situations in the future.
Getka said he hopes a personal finance course will one day become a graduation requirement for all high school students in Delaware, but the state isn’t there yet. For him, he was happy that 24 students signed up for his personal finance course, and that several of them wanted so badly to compete in PFC.
“It’s a proud moment to come here and watch them. No matter how they perform today, I know they are better prepared for tomorrow,” Getka said.