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Students learn value of money at state auditor's 'Money Matters

by Gail Marsh

ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR

BRIDGEPORT -- More than 100 sophomores from the county's six high schools got a lesson in financial management during Tuesday's "Money Matters" event at the Meadowbrook Mall.

The is the second year for the mall to host the program, a cooperative venture with the Harrison County Board of Education and the West Virginia State Auditor's Office.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our students to learn about finances outside of the traditional classroom," said Susan Collins, administrative assistant over adolescent education. "There are experts here from all over the state to teach the students about credit card fraud or about planning for their financial futures."

The program began at 9 a.m. and, before day's end, the students traveled through six classes covering financial literacy, credit card safety, scams, insurance, securities and the stock market.

It was an eye-opening experience for many of the students.

"I knew getting a speeding ticket could raise your insurance rate, but I didn't know it was that high," said Ryan Post, a student from Robert C. Byrd High School.

"Learning about scams was interesting, and about fraud. If you fill out a contest form to win a trip, that information could be sold to telemarketers," said Heather Williams, also an RCB student.

One of the most popular classes was the Stock Market Game by the National Association of Economics Educators. The game demonstrates how the stock market works by allowing the students to bid with play money on items donated from mall stores.

"It was really good to help you learn about what it's like in the real world. You could bid on the things you wanted," said Andrew Morgan, a Liberty High School student who bought a water bottle and key chain.

After the success of last year's financial planning event in March, the state auditor's office has traveled the state to promote a similar program in other communities.

"This is a chance for the students to learn how to handle money responsibly in a place where they usually spend money. The more they learn about money, the less likely they are to have money problems," said Jennifer Wilson, marketing director for the mall.

Assistant City Editor Gail Marsh can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at gmarsh@exponent-telegram.com.

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