Chelsea High School Takes First in National Finance Challenge, Team Members Each Receive $2,000 NEST Account





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First Place, Chelsea High School, Chelsea, Michigan. From left, Rachel Biar, director of NEST; Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg; team members, Jeremy Burby, Riley Lukomski, Zach Barhite; Jennifer Davidson, president, Nebraska Council on Economic Education; teacher, Matt Pedlow; team member Connor Gilbreath.

From Becky Barnard

A team of four students from Chelsea High School, Michigan, took first place in the National Personal Finance Challenge, hosted by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Friday, May 11.

Team members are Jeremy Burby, Riley Lukomski, Zachary Barhite, and Connor Gilbreath, all seniors. Each team member received a $2,000 college savings account contribution from the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST). Their teacher Matt Pedlow received an Apple iPad tablet, also from NEST.

In an interview after the awards presentation, team members said they were “unbelievably happy” to have placed first, and they attributed their strong showing to their solid research, their presentation skills, and their ability to answer questions from the judges effectively. They said they prepared their PowerPoint presentation with the hypothetical family in mind, choosing their words and recommendations to suit their audience.

Second place in the national competition that drew schools from 17 states went to BASIS Scottsdale of Scottsdale, Arizona, and third place went to Clarinda High School in Clarinda, Iowa.

“I want to congratulate all the students who participated in the national competition and thank them for their hard work, knowledge, creativity, and resourcefulness,” said Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg, Trustee of NEST and one of the judges in the competition finals.

“The students were well prepared, and their presentations were thoughtful, detailed, and easy to understand. I also want to acknowledge the teachers who encouraged their students to enter the competition, helped them prepare, and guided them along the way,” Stenberg said.

Jennifer Davidson, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, said the event, which began with a welcoming dinner Thursday night, was “fantastic,” describing the competition as “fierce.” This is the eighth year for the event and the first time in Lincoln. Previously it took place in Kansas City or St. Louis.

Wells Fargo was the signature corporate sponsor for the national competition. Other sponsors include the UNL College of Business Dean’s Start Something Fund, Nelnet, TIAA, and the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Earlier, the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) passed a resolution endorsing the National Personal Finance Challenge and encouraging students in their states to enter. “The future of our national economy, our state economies, and the economic well-being of constituents in member states depends on a well-informed citizenry that understands basic financial and economic concepts and can navigate in an increasingly complex and diverse financial environment,” the resolution said.

Students reached the national competition by placing first in their state competitions, sponsored by their state Council on Economic Education. In the national event, the students were presented with a hypothetical family financial scenario and given two hours to come up with a resolution to the family’s financial situation. In the preliminary round, teams were randomly divided into three groups and presented their findings to judges. The top team in each group then presented to a panel of elite judges in the final round.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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