St. John students learn life lessons at Finance Park

Published 12:07 am Saturday, November 21, 2015

GARYVILLE — Eighth-graders from the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District recently participated in the Capital One/Junior Achievement Finance Park.

Finance Park introduces students to personal finance and career explorations through classroom instruction complemented by a hands-on experience where students apply learned concepts in a life-like community.

That community came to life Nov. 3 through 13 at Garyville-Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School.

“This program gives our students a chance to see first-hand all that is involved with putting together a household budget,” said Stephen Zafirau, math curriculum facilitator for the district.

“They get to see the real-world financial decisions that adults have to make every day. It’s impressive to see so many of our eighth-graders thinking hard about what it would mean to be financially independent and what making responsible financial choices would look like.”

While at Finance Park, each student was given a life situation card with a yearly gross salary, marital status, number of children and their age. Students were expected to make good budget choices when choosing their household expenses with their given income.

Those choices included using bank services, contributing to charities and purchasing housing, transportation, furnishings, food and health care, among other expenses. They were also expected to make investment decisions.

Volunteers provided guidance to the students as they worked through their budgets.

At the end of the program, students were able to identify services provided by financial institutions, explain debit cards and their use, explain the advantages and disadvantages of using credit, evaluate the risks and benefits of saving and investing, identify the impact interest rates have on investment value and read stock quotes and determine stock value.