Getting excited about financial literacy

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 17, 2013

John Ramage looked out at the nearly 75 seniors gathered at Charles Henderson High School on Tuesday and smiled.

“Now, some of you aren’t getting a certificate today because don’t have them ready yet,” he said with a grin. “But let me tell you, if that try that next week don’t let ‘em do it. You stand on that stage and don’t leave until you get that diploma.”

As the students whooped in laughter, the First National Bank president smiled and stepped aside to assist in distributing certificates to the students. Ramage was joining CHHS principal Dr. Boyd English and government and economics teacher Coach Derek Irons in a completion ceremony to honor the 73 students who earned certificates in the Everfi financial literacy curriculum, sponsored by the bank.

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The CHHS seniors were introduced to the curriculum thanks to the bank’s sponsorship, which paid for Everfi programs in 10 schools throughout Pike County. More than 500 students completed the coursework this year, but the CHHS group was the largest and, as such, earned the distinction of having its own completion ceremony, said Nicky Huels, an Everfi representative on hand for the event.

The program is based on a simple concept: using interactive tools, it teaches students critical information about financial literacy, from information about managing credit scores to how to balance checkbooks and avoid overage fees. It discusses the basics of budgeting, saving, investing and letting your money work for you.

“I’ve always felt like, as an educator, it’s our job to empower students to do whatever it is they’re going to after high school,” Irons said. “Graduation is two weeks away, and whether students are going to college or going to work, this program gives them tools and information they need to handle finances in the real world.”

Finances, like government, are something Irons said students need to understand because they affect every aspect of our lives. “You can be ignorant about it or be educated and have tools to use in your favor.”

For Ramage, the bank’s decision to bring Everfi to CHHS, Pike Lib, Pike County, Goshen and the other schools is simple.

“It’s an investment in our community,” he said.

“I want y’all to have the tools to be successful,” he told the students. “Some of you are going to college, some will go to the military, some will go to work right away in the real world. Some of the things you’ve learned through this Everfi program can affect you for life … “

For their part, the students appreciated the lifeskills learned from Everfi, even if they were at first skeptical, said Becca Hartley. “Now, we’re very aware of what’s going to be going on next year.”

That awareness – that tool “to use in your favor” – is at the heart of the Everfi program. It’s why FNB decided to invest in the partnership. It’s why Coach Irons decided to embrace the program and incorporate it into his seniors’ already full curriculum. And it’s why Ramage is excited about the positive impact it will have on the financial well-being of future generations.

“The impact it will have on these students and the collective future of Pike Count is really, really inspiring,” he said.

Stacy G. Graning is publisher of The Messenger. Email her at