Two Adams County schools were recently recognized for their efforts to educate students in finance.
Littlestown and Biglerville high school were named Gold Standard Schools by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) for guaranteeing personal finance instruction, according to a release from NGPF, which is a nonprofit “on a mission to bring financial education to every high schooler in America.” NGPF awarded the Gold Standard rank to 887 schools across the country, the release states.
At Littlestown, students must take one semester of personal finance in order to graduate, according to Principal Matthew Meakin. Students typically take the class during their senior year. The class has been required at LHS for about 10 years, Meakin said.
“The whole concept of finance is central to adulthood,” Meakin said.
In the class, students learn how to budget, set financial goals such as how to save for a car, how to apply for a loan, use financial software, and more. He said the curriculum stays up-to-date and includes lessons on how to use finance applications on social media.
“Some of the financial decisions you make now are going to be impactful,” Meakin said.
Prior to personal finance, 10th grade students take a mandatory career readiness class that shows them what steps they need to take to pursue their chosen field.
Meakin said personal finance isn’t about teaching students how to make the most money, but how to “live within your financial means” and meet goals.
“We’re trying to advocate for financial literacy,” Meakin said.
Before students take the class, knowledge of personal finance is “very low,” according to Meakin. The hope is students will learn the basics in high school so they can make smart choices as they get older.
Dr. Lena Showers-Lewis and Scott Staub teach the business classes.
At Biglerville, students must also take personal finance class before they graduate.
Principal Beth Graham said students typically take the semester-long class their junior or senior year.
“It’s beyond balancing a check book, but it’s these basic life skills,” Graham said. “Everybody in their life has to know how to manage money.”
While many high school students have part-time jobs and even bank accounts, Graham said they don’t know much about budgeting and investing. In class, students learn about this and more. They talk about the importance of credit, taxes, and how to buy a home, too. Graham’s hope is students will be more prepared for the world after graduation.
“It can be a bit of a slap in the face if you’re not ready,” she said.
In Graham’s experience, students find the class to be “informational” and “helpful.” She said receiving the award from NGPF “validates what we do.” They’ve had the class for at least six years.
Leigh Smith and Tracy Hebert teach personal finance at Biglerville. Students can also elect to take courses in marketing and accounting.
Just one in six American students is required to take a personal finance class before graduation, according to NGPF.
“With some of life’s biggest financial decisions looming — first jobs and cars, college selection, financial aid applications — high school is when students need a comprehensive personal finance education,” NGPF Co-founder Tim Ranzetta said in the release.