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HCMS 8th Grade Visits Chambertown

On Tuesday, March 19th, the 8th-grade class at Hanover Central Middle School visited the Dean and Barbara White Community Center in Merrillville to attend the Junior Achievement Chambertown, hosted by the Crossroads Northwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement. Students from other Northwest Indiana schools also attended this economic adventure. Sponsors include the Bosak Auto Group, Financial Advisor Chase Lowden, Cleveland-Cliffs, Horizon Bank, Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys, NW Indiana ER & Hospital, Old National Bank, Purdue Federal Credit Union, R & M Partners, LLC, TODO, and Chick-fil-A.

Each student was given an occupation which was broken down to show the career cluster, monthly gross and net income, their level of education, and their career summary.  Students walked around the “town” to visit various businesses for financial information. The booths included information about housing, utilities, food, entertainment, and more.  As they moved from booth to booth, they had to focus on their budget, which was broken down for them with suggested amounts to spend based on their income. One student said, “I was surprised about how difficult it was to get the things you want without going over the budget and going into debt.”

This experience piggybacks off of the employability skills that have been taught all school year by the 8th-grade teams. Additionally, it was also a capstone of Junior Achievement’s business and finance lessons that are incorporated into Josh Suttle’s Computer Science class and Jacob Mollenkopf’s Prepping for College and Careers class. Students have been participating in the Econ for Success program in these classes. The Junior Achievement Chambertown allowed them to apply what they have been learning in class, as well as give them that experience of what life will be like after high school. Another student mentioned, “Something I found positive was seeing that if you budget your money very well then even at the end of the day you could still have money left over.”

All the 8th-grade teachers participated in the Junior Achievement Chambertown event not just to supervise the students but also to observe and comprehend the concepts that students are grasping or struggling with.  Mr. Mollenkopf said, “I think the students gained an understanding of some of the costs that they typically don't think about and how that impacts the budget.” Mr. Suttle mentioned, “I recommend that students receive guidance on financial literacy and debt management as these are essential skills needed to navigate a successful life, irrespective of income. Junior Achievement provides an excellent opportunity for students to understand that a fulfilling life can be achieved at different income levels through effective management of income and expenses.”

The Junior Achievement Chambertown event proved to be an educational experience for the 8th-grade students at Hanover Central Middle School. Through interactive booths and hands-on budgeting exercises, students gained practical insights into financial management and career exploration. The event not only reinforced classroom lessons and employability skills but also provided a glimpse into real-world economic scenarios, preparing them for life beyond high school. With the support of dedicated teachers and the generous sponsorship of local businesses, the Junior Achievement Chambertown helped our students understand the importance of financial literacy and equipped them with essential skills for future success.