Bremerton students learn financial skills

Bremerton High School’s financial literacy class might pay off for some of its students.

Bremerton High School students earned top scores in this year’s National Financial Capability Challenge, a test created by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Financial Literacy teacher Leah Zimmer said 22 of her students, out of 88, scored in the top 20 percent nationally on the web quiz that tests knowledge on saving, investing and spending.

The high scores put the financial class in the running for 20 $1,000 scholarships, Zimmer said.

The Charles Schwab Foundation-funded scholarships will be announced sometime in August.

Assistant Principal Linda Hupka said she and Zimmer are considering proposing the school make finance courses a graduation requirement.

“We’ve done surveys of students and they’re absolutely saying this is such a valuable class,” Hupka said.

In Zimmer’s class, students start by learning the basics about balancing checkbooks and avoiding the trappings of debt before moving into investing in and tracking the stock market.

Zimmer sees teenagers get interested in seeing ways to make money grow.

“It’s a stretch to get students to think about retiring, but when they use these financial calculators, they get excited,” Zimmer said.

One of her students already took his new knowledge to the bank.

Graduating senior Hector Holguin has worked at Dairy Queen since August and, after learning about investing, opened a Roth Individual Retirement Arrangement and a money market account. Holguin estimates he’s saved about $1,400 so far.

“It just seemed the thing to do, to open it now while I’m still young and let the money grow,” Holguin said.

He recommends teens take a financial literacy class if it’s available, and open a savings account.

“If a new savings account comes available and it has a higher APR, I’d tell them to switch,” Holguin said.

His teacher is impressed.

“A lot of adults don’t know what a Roth IRA is,” Zimmer said. “As a teacher, it’s like, wow.”


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