W-H principal Dr. Christopher Jones received the go-ahead from School Committee members on Wednesday, Dec. 11 to use a grant from NextGen, a personal finance firm, to fund a financial literacy program of studies with an eye toward including it as a graduation requirement beginning in 2024.
“We thought it would add up, seeing that we ran a pilot this year,” Jones said. “We were already looking to make it a graduation requirement.”
The $10,000 grant would help implement the program, however the Committee’s support in a vote, reflected in a vote recorded in the minutes to require financial literacy as a graduation criteria. No additional personnel is required with the rolling of a computer application course into the financial literacy program. An $11,500 state grant will fund professional development for the program.
“I’m glad to see we’re doing something on this,” said School Committee member Dan Cullity. “I do believe our students do not — over the last four or five years — come out of here knowing how to do anything for life. [They’re] basement dwellers because they don’t know how to get a house.”
He said there is such an emphasis on college, when only a certain amount go to college while the rest “have to get out there and do the blue-collar work.”
School Committee member Alexandra Taylor, who works in a bank, agreed.
“It’s not just younger people,” she added. “It’s adults my age who have no clue how to do any of it.”
Jones said the course goes beyond that, noting how students cover APR, buying a house, credit scores, interest rates and the like. Jones also outlined a policy approach to vaping and its potential for addiction, including consequences, recently classifying it as a “suspension event.”
“We want to put in an educational component,” Jones said, noting that suspensions alone proved initially successful, but vaping use is on the increase again. A Saturday program is being looked at, including informational videos and reports as well as discussions with counselors, administrators or the school resource officer. Whitman resident Shawn Kain, of the recovery high school in Brockton, reiterated his request that the possibility of a student’s being diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.
“I think it’s a whole lot more important or serious than we’re discussing,” Kain said. “I think addiction is a disability and I think it should be treated as a disability.”
He has been advocating for its inclusion in the student handbook as a disability just as any emotional disability.
The School Committee also approved Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Szymaniak’s request to form a Superintendent’s Council of students with the aim of the students to meet three or four times a year with the committee.
Szymaniak proposed leaning on student leaders for membership on the council, but School Committee member Robert O’Brien Jr., said he would prefer hearing from a cross-section of students.
“I want to hear from others, quite honestly,” O’Brien said. “I don’t always want to hear from the student leaders … I want to hear from all walks of life.”
In other business, the students of the WHRHS National Honor Society presented checks for $908 each to the Whitman and Hanson food pantries during the meeting.
NHS members raised a total of $1,817 during the annual Miles for Meals 5K fun run and one-mile walk on Sept. 28, according to adviser Kelly Tanis, a language teacher.
Christine Cameron of the Hanson Food Pantry and Bruce Perry of the Whitman Food Pantry attended the meeting to accept the donations from NHS member Chloe Wilson.
“Thank you to both food pantries for all you do for the community,” Wilson said.
“Year in-year out these kids do this — it used to be under the direction of Ms. Galambos, but now Ms. Tanis — and they do a great job,” Perry said. “The students always come through for us and we really appreciate it. I really want to commend them for that.”