HUGHESTOWN — Students at Martin L. Mattei Middle School proved Thursday it’s never too early to start thinking about personal finance.
Over 230 sixth grade students received certificates during a special assembly for completing a web-based financial education course sponsored by Fidelity Bank.
The bank teamed up with the education technology company EverFi, Inc. to bring the program into the school at no cost to the district.
The purpose of the course, according to Fidelity Bank Marketing Communications Officer Patty DeScipio, was to provide students with the skills needed to make financial decisions such as making credit card payments, balancing a checkbook, or using a debit card.
During the assembly, some students spoke about what they enjoyed and learned through the course.
“Before I went through this program I did not understand the difference between jobs and careers,” said Drew O’Malley. “My favorite part of the course was I learned the difference between credit and debit because I was interested in it.”
Fellow student Grazia Saporito said she learned how to better manage her money through the program through debit cards.
“Before I went through this program I did not understand how important it is to manage money and how it (impacts) one’s life,” she said. “This program helped me prepare for the future and now I know how to adapt to new technology.”
According to middle school Principal Patrick Bilbow, the sixth students began the program in January and officially concluded it when they received their certificates.
“When the people from behind the program met with us, we sat down and hashed out where we thought it would be the most appropriate for students in grades 5-8,” he said. “They thought fifth grade students might not be mature enough, while seventh and eighth grade students might be too mature. In looking at the age group, we determined the proper place would be in the sixth grade.”
The Martin L. Mattei Middle School was the only school in Luzerne County chosen for this program, and DeScipio said it is a way for Fidelity Bank to get more involved in the Pittston community after moving to Kennedy Boulevard from West Pittston last year.
“We try to integrate ourselves into the communities we serve,” she said. “We made a contact with the school and brought the program to them and they were very receptive. We had our representatives from the bank visit the school and present the program, along with the teachers, who have been very helpful.”
Despite teaching the students the importance of finances at a young age, Bilbow hopes they will carry that knowledge with them when they enter the real world.
“I think in addition to learning academically, I think schools are also taking on the role of preparing students for situations in real life and any situations we can help with once they’re no longer in school,” he said. “I think these things are important and any standard skills we’re giving them will help them somewhere down the road.”