Elkin seniors learn finances from local business leaders

Taylor PardueStaff Reporter

April 25, 2013

Elkin High School gave students an opportunity to hear real-world advice from someone besides their parents Wednesday.

Business leaders and volunteers from the community sat down with a “kitchen table” of students apiece to discuss money managements - both its dangers and responsibilities.

Elkin High’s Kim Parks set up the event as a way to tell students vital information about the financial world prior to graduations. Barbara Long, CTE director for Elkin High School and former coordinator for the event, said the conversations give students a chance to hear important financial advice from other adults than their own parents, which hopefully gives students a more open-minded appreciation of the talks.

Graduating seniors were excused during their second periods to Dixon Auditorium for a short skit by J.L. Lowe and David Steelman. Lowe played “Houston Parks,” a graduating senior who is advised by his father to meet with Steelman, a banker with financial advice for him.

Following the skit the two men took turns at the microphone.

Lowe told students that responsible usage of a credit card was a must. He explained the differences in credit and debit cards, and tried to tell students to be on the lookout for credit card companies that would suddenly start offering them cards when they graduated.

Lowe also mentioned the need for students to continue their education throughout their lives, as careers today required a broad and working knowledge of many areas for a candidate to be competitive.

Steelman told students to prepare for a long working career, citing the likelihood that graduates today will have to work until their 70s and 80s. He also said students should take care of themselves physically now to avoid expensive medical bills later.

Students and volunteers then made their way back to the media center for the kitchen table portion. Students drew pictures of pieces of fruit to determine which volunteer they would sit with.

Business leaders and community volunteers included Mary Blackburn of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, Steve Owings of State Farm, Barry Revis of Edward Jones, Travis Wilmoth of BB&T, Audra Cox of SECU, Stephanie Thornburg of SECU, J.L. Lowe, Frank Beals of Edward Jones, John Cahill, business teacher Joe McCulloch of Elkin High’s CTE program, and David Steelman.

Audra Cox of the State Employees Credit Union met with Timothy Lyon, Daniel Heiner, David Slawter, Andrew Combs, Billy Clay and Andrew Palaez. She spoke to them about credit reports and the need for saving accounts, dangers of interest rates, credit cards, stocks, bonds, IRAs, 401(k)s, and CDs.

Cox drew on her expertise as a Credit Union employee to explain to the seniors how to start using a credit card responsibly. Many of the students had debit cards but were uneasy about making the switch to a credit card. The students told they had always been taught, and felt comfortable with, paying in cash to avoid credit problems.

Cox told them that while this was a safe approach it could hurt their credit later by not establishing a credit history. She suggested getting a credit card with a low credit limit to use for gas purchases. This would allow a credit history to be created but not endanger the students with massive debt.

She summarized credit with lifestyle choices of all kinds: “know your limitations.” If the money is not available for a purchase, respect that and do not use credit as a gift card. She reminded them to make smart, healthy choices both physically and financially.

To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.