SWANTON — For five years now, every student that has walked through the halls of Missisquoi Valley Union (MVU) High School has been required to take personal finance, in the hopes they will learn how to properly manage their money, according to teachers in the business department.

Mary Hartman, former head of the business department, said the school decided to upgrade the classes from electives to requirements after attending a conference hosted by Jump$tart, a coalition aiming to educate and prepare the younger generation for lifelong financial success, five years ago.

“We didn’t want to have students graduate from MVU and not have that basic knowledge,” she said, referring to budgeting, managing credit and student loans. “Especially in today’s world, it’s really important.”

Hartman said the personal finance class is ideal for students when they’re seniors, but can be taken earlier. John Gowland, who teaches the class currently, said it’s because by 12th grade, “many of them have jobs and have this understanding of what it means to work and earn money.”

Seniors Will Robear and Kaitlyn Boudreau said learning how to manage one’s money is one of the most important life skills someone can learn.

“You don’t really think about it living at home with your parents, but once you’re out in the real world, you have to think about food… housing, transportation,” Robear said. “You never realize how much that all costs, until you’re doing it yourself.”

“I agree,” Boudreau said. “I think budgeting is a big one because everything revolves around money. To survive, you need money. You need to pay for food. You need some place to live.”

To read the full story, pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.