A club that teaches Blazers life skills useful wherever they go.
As another meeting of Blair's Financial Literacy Club kicks off, captain senior Emmanuel Odim introduces the stock market and discusses how to evaluate its trends. He asks members to log on to the stock market simulation he and other captains created to practice investing imaginary money.
At first, students let out squeals of excitement as they rejoice over the $1 million they are given to invest with. Yet as they pour money into various stocks, from Walmart to Google and Apple, some faces fall as they realize they're losing money. But with advice from both the club's captains and other club members, everyone's overall gains soon become positive.
Towards the end of the meeting, the captains ask for feedback on the game, from how educational the experience was to which game features to add or take out. The overall response is favorable, and listening to members' advice, the captains decide to tweak a couple of game features, such as removing the limit on stock prices players can "purchase".
This response was exactly what Financial Literacy Club senior captains Arya Palan, Emmanuel Odim, Jet Wu, Konchuk Shonu, and Matthew Casertano were hoping for from this activity. "[In this activity], you get to invest without the high risk. When you do this without the risk, you have the practice before you enter into the real world, where there are actual risks and you have the chance of losing your house or your retirement fund. So you know [what] you want to avoid before that actually happens," Odim says.
Palan, Odim, Wu, and Shonu created the club during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they realized the importance of financial literacy. "We were always talking about the idea that financial literacy was important and we were putting together plans to start it, but then COVID-19 actually started. We saw a lot of people getting kicked out of their houses and realized that fundamentally, it was a big issue to talk about and we should probably address it," Wu says.
Although the four friends had an idea for the club, its curriculum was developed primarily by Casertano, who had experience teaching financial literacy. "I had been teaching [financial literacy] at the Cordell Place, which is a permanent housing program in Montgomery County, and had noticed the impact financial literacy had on the residents. When I found out that there were people at Blair that were starting a club that was teaching financial literacy to kids, I thought that I had already built up a nice curriculum which I had built for residents and that I would be able to contribute a lot to the club," Casertano says.
The club's leadership plans to cover traditional financial literacy topics such as banking, employment and insurance, but also hopes to address topics members want. "We realized that kids have specific topics that they want to cover, and we want to try to cater towards that," Odim says. This could be members or captains presenting, but the main purpose is to help members both learn and have fun.
Chris LaFleur, a senior and member of the club, does not regret joining the club. "I joined this club so I can learn more about what I can do financially better, which will help a lot in the future. The atmosphere is really fun and the club leaders explain things very well," LaFleur says.
However, the club's captains also hope Blazers will get involved in the club beyond attending meetings, such as teaching financial literacy to students at other schools. "As the school year starts again, we're going back to the idea of having our members go to other schools to teach kids, especially those from low-income backgrounds," Casertano says.
Through teaching others, members themselves can gain a deeper understanding of financial literacy. Additionally, the club hopes to participate in competitions such as the Husky Investment Tournament, organized by the Michigan Technological University College of Business, or Blair's own stock competition, in order to gain risk-free experience with investment.
The captains have been very successful at the Husky Investment Tournament, with a fourth place finish last year, and hope to extend news of the worthwhile experience to others. "We want to expand the competitions out to other students, so we want to bring as many teams as we can," Palan says.
With valuable life lessons crucial to future success, Financial Literacy Club is worth attending. After all, it's better to make mistakes now, risk-free, than in the future.
The Blair Financial Literacy Club meets Thursdays during lunch in room 132. If Blazers have any specific topics they want covered in Financial Literacy Club, members can DM them on Instagram (@mbhsflc) or contact them through email (email@example.com).
Joy Song. Hi! My name is Joy, and I'm a staff writer. Apart from writing for SCO, I enjoy reading and listening to music. More »