On Thursday, Feb. 13, Gaither’s PTSA hosted a Financial Literacy Night, led by First Citrus Bank, in the Jerry Skora Auditorium.
The event had very low attendance. Other than the families of some PTSA members, only a few families from Gaither and the community showed up.
The event was advertised on Feb. 3, when Gaither’s College and Career Counselor Kathryn Branham posted a flyer for the event on Edsby. An invite was extended to students and parents at Hill Middle School through a parent email on Feb. 10.
Data from a survey of 25 Gaither students revealed that only four students knew the event was happening and none planned to attend.
Financial Literacy Night was advertised to begin at 6 p.m., but started about 20 minutes after that time.
During those twenty minutes, a PTSA meeting was held. One of the families in attendance left the auditorium and did not return.
Prior to the start of the event, Jennifer Fearnow, whose son attends Hill Middle School, described her excitement about Financial Literacy Night.
“It’s definitely an exciting thing to show kids ways of preparing for the future and learning about the real world,” said Fearnow.
Frank Reyes, the PTSA member who organized the event had a few words to say about the importance of the presentation happening, as well as past and future presentations at the school.
“It’s important to give back to our students, to help student enrichment and teach them the importance of working with the real world,” said Reyes.
Despite the late start and low attendance, presenters from First Citrus Bank carried on with the event.
Attendees participated in a money management activity where they received 2000 fake dollars to distribute amongst different real-life expenses including rent, gas, utilities and phone bills. The purpose of the activity was to experience the feelings that came along with having or not having enough money to pay for something.
After the activity, the presenters answered questions about financing, the difference between debit cards and credit cards, applying for a loan and establishing a credit score.
Derrick Shearer, one presenter from First Citrus Bank gave advice to the attendees about the importance of paying for needs before wants.
“Pay your bills first. Things do happen,” said Shearer.
Shearer and the other presenters emphasized the importance of being financially literate.
“High school students can benefit from being able to manage their own financial affairs, like applying for college, maintaining a bank account, buying their first home, or knowing the value of their credit score,” said Shearer.
Branch Manager Lisa Pitts said that many students coming out of high school are not as informed about their finances as they should be.
“I don’t think students are financially literate unless students are required to take financial classes. I think it’s difficult for a young person to know,” said Pitts.
Students will be required to take financial literacy classes in the future.
Following a bill signed into law in Jun. 2019 by Fla. Governor Ron DeSantis, all school districts in Fla. will be required to give students the option to fulfill diploma requirements by completing two credits in work-based learning programs and two credits in career and technical education courses.