A better financial future in the works

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

If the last 10 years taught Americans anything, it’s that better personal finance management can make or break a person’s or family’s livelihood.

When the recession hit, many people lost their jobs and found that they couldn’t pay their mortgage or sell their homes and had little to no savings to cover not only their day-to-day expenses but also their mountains of student-loan and credit-card debt.

It wasn’t too long after that that personal finance classes became a requirement to graduate from a public high school in Virginia. Any number of blogs and websites can now be found online to dole out financial advice. Find the right section at your local library, and the selection of advice books on finances is daunting. Stop anyone on the street and ask that person what their favorite piece of financial advice is, and they’ll likely be able to tell you something — but whether or not you should follow that advice is probably another story.

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One thing remains certain: too many Americans know too little about finances, and it is killing our nation’s productivity.

However, the required classes in high school remain a bright spot. There is, perhaps, hope for the future. Virginia high schools are producing young people who are more educated and well prepared for financial reality.

That spot is particularly bright at Nansemond River High School this month, which has had quite a number of students succeed in recent finance- and business-related endeavors.

The Virginia Counsel of Economic Education recently held the 2018 Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance, and a team of four students from Nansemond River took first place in the personal finance division.

Ryan Abraham, Mackenzie West, Oliver Rice and Lauren Ratkovich were the students, with Jason Bartholomew as their teacher. The students had to take a test as well as write a 10-page report advising a hypothetical family on a sticky financial situation. They also had to present that report to two panels of judges.

Separately, but also led by Bartholomew, 15 Warriors competed at the Virginia Future Business Leaders of America State Leadership Conference. Many of them placed highly at challenges that tested such skills as managing a business, knowledge of parliamentary procedure, accounting, coding and programming and other high-level facets of the business world.

It certainly sounds like many Nansemond River High School students are graduating well prepared for their futures not only academically but also financially, thanks to Bartholomew. A round of applause for him and all of his students.