SPRINGFIELD — It’s not enough to earn the money, says 13-year-old Aidan Quee of Springfield.
You must know how to spend, and more importantly save, that money as well.
“Budgeting is the most important thing,” Quee, a seventh grader at the Springfield Renaissance School, said. “In the future I’m going to have to save for things I need, like books for school.”
Quee was one of the 800 Springfield students from 10 schools Wednesday, who attended a celebration of their having completed the MassMutual Foundation’s FutureSmart — a financial education program developed for middle school students.
The graduation ceremony for students was held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
The digital curriculum is available at no cost to schools nationwide in English and Spanish. In three years, the MassMutual Foundation has presented FutureSmart to 1.5 million middle schoolers and will top 2 million in the year 2020, said MassMutual Head of Community Responsibility Dennis Duquette, who is also president of the MassMutual Foundation.
MassMutual is doing a follow-up study verifying that students are learning.
“Across grade levels, across socio-economic backgrounds, regardless of how a teacher introduces it the kids are learning,” he said. “And study after study tells us that middle school is a critical time. These students today are making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.”
Some teachers included FutureSmart in a math curriculum, others, like Quee’s teacher, use it to teach social studies.
Wednesday’s celebration, the first one in Springfield, included an interactive play based on the digital curriculum and the examples it gives and performed by actors from The National Theatre for Children.
In part of the play, a character must decide what type of computer to buy and how to pay for it. In another scene, a character gets a raise for working hard and learns to invest the extra money.
Students also heard from Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick.
One student, DeAngel Dennis from Springfield Public Day Middle School, received $1,000 toward his college savings and all the students can win a different $1,000 scholarship through an essay contest.