Story by Jack Holdsworth and Julia Florence, Norwich Free Academy
While a student may find his or her attention focused primarily on his or her daily work load throughout high school, the focus of a high school education is preparation for the future. To supplement this goal, NFA’s Career and Technical Education Department hosted “Banking Day,” which provided students with an opportunity to explore financial topics that are of particular importance to high school students.
“This is more focused on essential topics that, regardless of what you do after high school, you need to know. You are going to buy your first car someday, you are going to need to open a bank account, you need to know how to use credit, so this is really focused on financial foundations for each teenager,” explained Linda Farhina, head of NFA’s Career and Technical Education department.
Students were able to visit a series of seven booths, manned by local banks and financial institutions, who each focused on important aspects of money management.
“They chose what they felt was important to young students. So, what does it take to get your first car loan? What matters? Well, you have to have good credit, and you have to have a job, because you pay that back, so they will focus on things like that,” explained Farhina.
NFA Math Teacher Kaitlyn Larew is among more than a dozen teachers who gave her students the opportunity to attend “Banking Day.”
“I teach math, and they are always asking how the math is going to be applied in real life, and so I figured it would be fun to come down and learn about banking and what their future is going to be like,” Larew explained.
From her personal experiences, Larew believes that it is important for students to have opportunities like these, to supplement what they are learning in class.
“As an adult, there were so many things I didn’t even realize I needed to know, until it is just sort of happening, and you have to figure it out,” Larew said, adding, “All of a sudden, it happens and you are an adult, and you have bills and loans and a car payment, and you don’t always know how to save for those future things.”
Students like senior Harrison Adams found that the event was a useful way to build confidence as he begins to take on more financial responsibilities.
“You are responsible for everything, you have to take care of everything, watch over everything, you have to know what you are doing,” said Adams.
The month of April is Financial Literacy Month, and although Banking Day was the only event on the NFA campus specifically designed to promote financial literacy, Farinha believes that elements of financial literacy education are woven into an NFA student’s year-round academic schedule.
“We are always focusing on ways to get students prepared for life after high school, and even within high school, when students get their first job. So, there aren’t any other specific events on campus, but it is always happening in the classroom,” said Farinha.
“[Financial literacy] is a skill that everybody needs to have. You need to start getting into the right mind frame at a young age, so that you really start realizing where your money is going, and where you can make changes in your lifestyle for further growth,” said Lauren LaBelle, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Eastern CT Savings Bank.
Dime Bank representative Laurie Moeck, echoed LaBelle’s sentiment at her booth entitled, “Buying Your First Car.”
“If you didn’t know these things, you could potentially buy a vehicle that doesn’t have the value, and end up getting yourself in debt. So, we’re trying to help you be responsible, consumer purchasers,” said Moeck.
NFA’s “Banking Day” not only provided students with an opportunity to invest in their future economic success, but it also allowed them to gain interest in creating a prosperous financial future.