TH students learn to balance textbooks and checkbooks

CRARYVILLE–The term “literacy” has a broader meaning than its roots in reading and writing. Among its more recent applications, it can be used to describe the mastery of skills like check writing, bill paying and other things financial.

Earlier this month 12 Taconic Hills High School seniors earned certificates that recognized them as financially literate. The certificates were awarded through the W!se (Working in Support of Education) Financial Literacy Certification Program, part of a national educational effort that developed the course taught at the school for the past three years. Taconic Hills, the first school in Columbia County to offer the course, is one of 75 schools across the state teaching this version of financial literacy. 

The W!se program was developed by the New York Financial Literacy Coalition in 2000 as part of an effort to promote better financial skills across America. The program covers: banking; credit cards; money management; investing in stocks, bonds and money market certificates; insurance; debt; loans; mortgage contracts, including how to read the fine print; interest rates; paychecks; budgeting; taxes; credit reports; identity theft; bankruptcy and more. Research has shown that most students are not taught these things by their parents.

“At first, they asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’ But I’ve talked to students who graduated who told me that without the course they would have been lost,” said high school social studies teacher Darby Dellea. Students who did not take the course told her they wished they had, she said.

“Whether they go on to college or out into the workforce, they need to know these things,” said Ms. Dellea.

At the awards assembly held at the Taconic Hills Performing Arts Center, High School Principal Kathy Cioppa and school board members Tom Bailey, Robert Morales and Harvey Webber gathered with  Assemblymen Marc Molinaro (R-103rd) and Peter Lopez (R-127th), and Robert Sholtz from Representative Scott Murphy’s office to congratulate students on their achievement.

Rachel Pierre, who was present to represent the program and its local sponsor, the Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation, said she hoped to “launch a national interest in mandating financial literacy programs in schools.”

“We’ll have to bring you up to Albany so you can solve the state budget crisis,” said Mr. Lopez from the podium. “To the extent you guys understand finances–personal, state and community–we will all be better off,” said the assemblyman.

“When I went to college, friendly folks wanted to give me a credit card,” said Mr. Sholz, who added this piece of advice: “If you don’t have the money, don’t spend the money.”

Tyler Esselstyn, Kiera Grossman, Kayla Henderson, Brianna Kring, James McDarby, Carlee Meier, Jack Mierzejewski, William Parmaleem, Lenora Rutkowski, Ben Saunders, Thomas Yench and Patricia Sanchez all received the certificates for the course, which was part of their social studies class.

Ms. Dellea received a Gold Star Award for her students’ success.

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