Junior Achievement to teach junior class finances, budgeting

Samantha Martin, Editor in Chief

Carlisle juniors will soon learn about financing life when Junior Achievement (JA) brings its Real Life programming to CHS.

According to the JA website, the Real Life program is designed to teach students about financial literacy by exposing students to experts in the fields of finance and business and having them learn from the experts. The experts teach students using a variety of different approaches, including the use of games such as The Real Life game.

“In this competition, students will be playing a life-size board game that takes the game in a different direction,” Junior Achievement’s website reads. “Teams of students will compete with each other for winning scores.   Prizes will be awarded at the end of the day.”

All juniors are required to take part in the event, which is split up across two different days so as to accommodate every member of the junior class. Students with the last names A-Loscher will be attending the event on February 26, while students with the last names Luisigman-Z will be participating Feb 27, according to the schedule provided by JA.

CHS has hosted the program for over three years, said Kelly Brent, the head of Carlisle Area School District’s mathematics department and one of the people in charge of planning and running the program.

“It’s such a neat day when they can see where science, engineering, and math can be used in the real world,” said Brent. “Junior Achievement was the one who said to us, ‘Your ninth graders seem to enjoy this so much; we actually have another program called ‘Real Life,’ which would be more geared towards eleventh and twelfth graders.”

Although many of the activities are quick and deal with specific aspects of financial planning including insurance and pricing, one activity encompasses nearly every aspect of finances into one program. The Budget Builder activity, a two-hour long simulation where students have to make financial decisions based off of an assigned scenario, is different from other activities in that it allows students to make choices regarding their finances and makes them more aware of the real-life impact of those choices.

“Unlike other financial literacy programs, Budget Builder is focused on the new realities,” the Junior Achievement website reads. “It’s a life-changing experience that will leave participants (1) aware that the choices they make influence their lives for years to come (2) aware of the importance of savings, and (3) aware of the key core concepts involved in financial decision making.”

Brent said that she feels hosting the program allows students to learn more about their finances.

“We offer a wide variety of courses here at the high school, but they’re more compartmentalized,” said Brent. “This program is very applicable, has everything you need. We don’t really teach budgeting, unless you take our finance class, which not everybody does.”

Students who have participated in the program in past years have had mixed emotions about the day.

“It is a very informative day that gives you a big perspective on how expensive the cost of living is,” senior Abbie Hurst said. “It gives you ideas about planning ahead and having a game plan in life.”

Some found it to be less helpful.

“It was beneficial only to an extent,” senior Vasoula Petsinis said. “I feel like it was kind of unrealistic, but I did learn about how many bills you have to take into account when trying to budget.”

Brent said that the school plans to continue this program into the future, although it may not always exactly resemble this year’s programming.

“We always make changes,” Brent said. “There’s always some little tweaks. Junior Achievement goes around to a lot of different high schools and does this. We have a meeting, the Junior Achievement people come in, we talk about last year, they tell us what worked at Cumberland Valley, what worked at Boiling Springs.”