A classroom of Fitch economics students took a trek to AMS on Friday to join an AMS eighth-grade class in presenting the realities of working within a budget. The program in its fifth year is a joint effort between Fitch economics teacher Donna Burnell and AMS teacher Carol Poulton.
"We try to do something with finances each year," Poulton said.
The program is called "Real Money, Real World." At Fitch, it falls under FITCHH, which stands for Financial Independence Teaching Choices and Healthy Habits. Under the FITCHH program, seniors and juniors develop booths that cover all aspects of finances and the monthly budget for an American family. It covers everything from buying a car and home, to providing food, clothing and vacations.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
What do you want, or here is what you can afford. That was the message at the food booth run by Fitch junior Nick Chenlikas as he helped AMS eighth-graders Savannah Davanzo and Sadie Wiseman stay within their budget last Friday.
"We research prices and pulled information," Bernell said. "Now my students are the experts or teachers. I know if they can teach it, they understand it."
The Fitch students then walk over the AMS and set up there booths in the hall and classroom of Poulton's eighth grade class.
Prior to the Fitch students' arrival, the AMS students are given a position in life. Some are married, some married with children, and others are single. They are then given a budget to work with and have to visit each booth where the Fitch students will help them make a choice that fits their budget.
At each booth, students had to make a choice. They had a budget for food, for clothing, and then were able to look into buying a house and a car.
"I got a small car," said eighth grader Jalen Fletcher. "I only have two in my family, me and my wife, and I was looking for economy."
At each station, the Fitch students had to sign off on the AMS student's budget worksheet to let the teacher know they visited the booth. Once the AMS kids hit each booth and spent their budget, they had one more stop to make. It was a booth called the finish line where they got a chance card.
The chance card is the unexpected things that happen in life," said Fitch junior Cortia Jackson.
The chance card could be anything from an unexpected vehicle repair to a water tank break or medical bills. The chance costs had to be figured into the budget as well and taught the students the importance of saving for a rainy day.
Half way through the session, the AMS students began approaching Poulton with the comment, "I don't have any money left, what do I do."
That is when they have to go back to their budget and find a place to cut so they can balance their budget. AMS student Saerra Sheridan was one of the early "went broke" participants.
"I went broke," she said. "I had to go back and cut my child care costs to make ends meet."
Poulton said the exercise opened many eyes to the reality of the cost of raising children.
"There is a lot going on in the world that they don't understand," Poulton said. "Children are expensive and today they will get that lesson. I told them all to go home and thank their parents."
The program also offered the opportunity to get a better job through continuing education. They learned that getting a good education can enable them to make more money and afford the things they really wanted.
In the end, both the Fitch and the AMS students walked away with a better knowledge of the real world and how families have to plan and work within their means. The students will now have the knowledge to better manage a budget and stay within it.