Students take winning essays to the bank
Three students at the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) wrote winning essays in a contest sponsored by Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank (MVSB). Sharing their thoughtful insights about budgets resulted in money in the bank for fifth graders Susanna (Zana) Van Rooyen and Eli Hanschka, and sixth-grader Cyrus Breese.
As first-place winner, Zana received a $200 savings bond, Eli a $100 savings bond for second place, and Cyrus a $50 savings bond for third place. The three students received their prizes at a presentation ceremony held last Monday at the MVSB's West Tisbury Branch.
Bank president and chief operating officer Christopher Wells and Patti Leighton, MVSB's executive assistant to the executive vice president, presented the students with their awards. Their parents and Amy Reece, the charter school's grade 5-6 English language arts teacher, also attended.
Ms. Leighton coordinated and ran the contest, which was held by the MVSB in honor of "National Teach Children to Save Day," a national event developed by the American Bankers Association (ABA) Education Foundation.
"This is something I've been involved with since I've been at the bank, which ties in with the economic literacy program and the school savings program," Ms. Leighton said. "To teach children by giving them information and making them aware of how to handle personal finances through the economic literacy program is how we are able to help them become responsible adults."
The contest was open to students Island-wide, including home-schooled students, in grades 3-5. About 60 students submitted entries, 26 of them from the charter school.
Ms. Reece, who also teaches social studies, said she tries to touch on the subject of economics throughout the school year. However, she added, "Finding a time during the year to talk about banking and budgets is hard. The essay contest provides a wonderful opportunity to do that, and the incentive of a prize makes the students excited about it."
The contest's panel of judges from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School included Principal Margaret (Peg) Regan and English teachers Christine Ferrone and Todd Sawyer.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
"You'll see by the essays that they're all very different," Ms. Leighton said. "It's not just regurgitating the definition of 'what is a budget.'"
Zana started her winning essay with the question, "Can money buy happiness?" She went on to explain how she and her mother work out a budget together, and try to save money by shopping where prices are cheaper.
"When my mom and I go shopping, we usually go to Cronig's. Cronig's is more expensive than Reliable. So every Saturday we make an effort to go to Reliable. I think that helps us save money for our budget," Zana wrote. "On the down side, we still like to go to Cronig's because we like the fresh variety of fruit and vegetables."
She concluded that, "When you're on a budget, you have to be creative. Look at the free things in life, like taking a walk or playing in your imagination. Everything in life doesn't have to cost money or burn a hole in your budget...I have made up my mind, money cannot buy happiness (But a budget might help!)."
Zana, the daughter of Lori Digiacomo and Carl Van Rooyen, said her main goal for saving money is to go on a trip to Italy with her school.
In addition to discussing household and business budgets, Eli's essay gave consideration to how budgets affect a community's economy. "On Martha's Vineyard, many businesses are much busier during the summer," he wrote. "So, they have to plan to save money for the winter when business is slower. Sometimes a person's budget can affect a community such as Martha's Vineyard."
He also pointed out, "Since the Vineyard is so much more expensive than the mainland, if most people shop off island, then Martha's Vineyard's economy would go down. Businesses such as propane or heating companies would not be affected by people going off island to shop, because you can't get that stuff on the mainland."
Eli, the son of Whit Hanschka and Nancy Tutko, concluded his essay with the thought that budgets will be helpful in life.
Cyrus took a broader look at what it means to have a budget, from the perspective of a child in a candy store to the country's President. "A budget is the annoyance of little children who want two candy bars instead of one. A budget is the pain of soldiers in Iraq that need more supplies for the war...If you're a kid in a candy store and you have 75 cents, that is your budget...If you're the president you have a lot of budgets to deal with. You have one for the military to use on supplies and equipment. You have the ones for food, education, healthcare, and taxes. All of which have budgets that they can use." Cyrus, the son of Peter and Melissa Breese, made a good case for living within one's means.
In addition to MVSB's economic literacy program, Ms. Leighton said the bank offers a school savings program at all of the Island schools. If students have deposited money into their accounts every week from September through June, they are acknowledged and recognized as "Super Savers" at their school's award ceremonies at end of the year.
In addition, each of them receives a $10 deposit to their account and their names go into a pool for one winner at their school for a savings bond.