Steamboat Springs High School students watch one of four financial-literacy-themed videos produced by students.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School students watch one of four financial-literacy-themed videos produced by students.

High schoolers get creative with financial literacy videos

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Past efforts to teach financial literacy to Steamboat Springs High School students haven’t always worked. Those experiences prompted a change this year.

Instead of taking high school juniors off campus to listen to financial professionals speak about a variety of topics, students were challenged to create educational videos. The Routt County Extension Office, which organized past events, asked juniors and seniors to create personal financial literacy videos as part of a contest with prizes.

The videos were shown Wednesday to the rest of the juniors and seniors.

“We decided to try a new project,” Family and Consumer Science and 4-H Extension Agent Karen Massey said. “What we’re attempting to do is use 21st century skills to teach personal finance.”

Massey said each of the four teams had to work collaboratively to tackle a topic and, with the assistance of a financial coach, create the educational videos. Topics included differences between debit and credit, identify theft, personal finance and banking.

Local video production and banking professionals judged the entries.

The winning video, “Charge,” pitted a credit card and a debit card against one another in a boxing match. Each card

introduced itself by explaining how it worked, and commentators explained its advantages.

Senior Allie Hay, the captain of the group that created “Charge,” said it was a fun project that had community and senior involvement, which she thought would get the attention of her peers. She was right.

Junior Scott Powers said he thought the videos were effective.

“I’ve just seen so many things that if you do it with creativity and enthusiasm, it’s better than just sitting down and listening,” he said. “You just learn more. You’re more engaged.”

Hay’s group, which included Caitlin Ormesher and Silvia Ballesteros, took first prize and was awarded $750.

The team that created “Identity Theft” — Evan DePuy, Jack Massey and Chris Barounos — took second, winning $500. They also won the People’s Choice Award, voted by the juniors and seniors, and were awarded another $250.

The other teams included Cliff Field, Maxx Schaller and Michael Ward, who created “Personal Finance;” and Buck Williams, Tom Lyon, Jake Barker and Conner Bernard, whose video was called “Bank On It.”

Both teams were disqualified from the judging because they used copyrighted material in their videos, but were still awarded $100.

Local nonprofit organization New Frontiers for Girls and Women donated $1,000 for the cash prizes.

Adonna Allen, president of Alpine Bank in Steamboat, said the city’s seven banks provided staff to serve as financial coaches and the rest of the cash for the prizes to students.

“To have all seven banks come together and support this program is a good indication of how strong the community support is for our high school and how much they care,” Allen said.

Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky said one-half credit of personal financial literacy wouldn’t be required for graduation until the class of 2015 enters the high school next year.

Students now have two financial literacy options, both electives for juniors and seniors, that would fulfill the graduation requirement, Lamansky said. He said another would be added for the 2012-13 school year.

Lamansky said any type of financial literacy instruction is important because it’s relevant for students.

“If it doesn’t apply to them immediately, it will shortly,” he said. “The more we can do, the better.”

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