On March 13, Coral Shores high school students competed in the Keys Federal Credit Union’s Financial Fitness Tournament. Four teams competed from late morning throughout the afternoon for a $1,500 check and the chance to represent the Upper Keys and face winners from the Middle and Lower Keys. Teams went one-on-one answering multiple-choice financial questions. When it was all said and done, the team of Shennan Kasprzak, Cole Russo and Gage Dennis came out the victor to move on to the next stage. The Keys-wide champion will received another $1,500 prize and the chance to move on to Orlando to compete in the next phase of competition. Sponsors for the challenge in the Upper Keys include St. James the Fisherman Episcopal Church, Markey’s Marine, Upper Keys Weekly, Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Upper Keys Marine Construction.
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On March 12, Keys Federal Credit Union held Marathon High School’s first Financial Fitness competition and awarded the winners — Aaron Tipsword, Luke Hoffman and Aydan Child, otherwise known as “The Bois” — a cool $1,500 for answering questions like this correctly.
While last year, the financial fitness event was only held in Key West, it now includes all high school students in the Keys. Each high school had a regional competition this week, and the top three teams will compete again on March 27-28. The Keyswide winners will receive an additional $1,500, and go on to compete online against other teams in Florida. The Financial Fitness Challenge culminates in a live contest between the top two Florida and Alabama teams in Orlando. Each level means more prize money.
Juli Lewis, the director of the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, came all the way from Tampa to moderate the competition. She created the Financial Fitness competition three years ago when she joined the foundation, dedicated in part to financial education. Lewis moderated the event, accompanied by Keys Federal Credit Union’s Mary Lou Carn and Sarah Evans.
The goal is, of course, financial literacy.
“They need to be able to survive after they get out of high school,” said Carn, about the importance of the exercise. “They have to able to pay bills. If they are going to college, they are going to have to know how to make a budget. If they stay in town, the more financially savvy they are, the better chance they’ll have of being able to live in the Keys and be able to sustain a Keys existence without having to leave.”
The four three-person teams at Marathon High School were sponsored by local businesses, including the Weekly Newspaper. “The Best Ones,” sponsored by Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, included Mary Ryder, Jay Walters and Abby Franck. Oriana Mendez, Shannon Pitchford and Hannah Ziels made up “The Besties,” sponsored by Shelter Bay Marine. “We Demand The Supply,” sponsored by Marathon Boat Yard, featured the brains of Ryan Koutros, Christian Ruiz and Sander Adames.“The Bois” — Tipsword, Hoffman and Child — were sponsored by The Weekly Newspaper. The sponsorship provides support for the students like the entry fee, shirts, game materials, grad prizes, travel and other expenses.
All students who participated in the competition have a class with teacher James Murphy, who said he thinks financial literacy will soon become a class of its own.“The Bois” come from Murphy’s fifth period Economics Honors class, and the three seniors agreed that financial education is critical for their age group.