The four Hannibal High School members of the state champion Dream Team have another reason to celebrate - the team won second place in the national finance contest on May 2, competing with teams from 19 states in the National Finance Challenge. Members of the team are HHS seniors Joseph Frye Jr., Laura Meidl and Dalton Powell, and junior Alex Addison.
Kurt Haner, their team leader and HHS personal finance teacher, was just as excited as the students after the national contest on May 2. “I’m just so proud of my kids that they did so well,” Haner said. “They competed against the top students in the nation in finances and academically.”
First place went to McCallie School, a private boarding school for boys in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The HHS students and their leader each received $500 and a trophy as second place winners. They had already won $500 each as state winners.
The contest is co-sponsored by the Missouri Council on Economic Education and Wells Fargo, and it took place at the Wells Fargo World Headquarters building in St. Louis.
With three members graduating this year, Addison is the only Dream Team member who will be eligible for the 2014 contest. “He is excited about competing next year,” Haner said. “He has already thought about students to ask to compete with him next year. I let the students choose their own team for the finance competition.”
The national contest was very close, Haner explained. “The first round of written testing involved questions on earning income and insurance. The second round asked students questions about using credit and buying goods and services. For the third round, each team of four students took the test together on questions related to saving and investing. Students were given 20 minutes to complete each round.
“After the first three rounds, the top five schools were announced,” Haner reported. “In fifth place was Indiana. Tied for the next spots were Minnesota and California.”
With Missouri and Tennessee the top two, “Missouri was close behind Tennessee,” he said. “After preliminary contests, the top two teams competed against each other in a finance quiz bowl,” Haner continued. “Throughout the quiz bowl Tennessee and Missouri were often tied. The quiz bowl went down to the final question!
“The event could have gone either way,” he said. “When the final question was asked, the (Tennessee) students were amazing, answering questions with only a few words out of the moderator’s mouth. The moderator would ask a question, and those kids would answer so quick, they buzzed in before us to answer the final question.”
Haner added that “Missouri was represented on both sides” in the final quiz bowl, because, “one of the students at that private boarding school was from Columbia, Mo.
Page 2 of 2 - “The Missouri Council on Economic Education and Wells Fargo really rolled out the red carpet for all of these students.” Haner added. “They paid for our hotel. They paid for our traveling expense, and they had wonderful meals for us. And the trophies were very beautiful.”
Local help was also donated, he said. “We really had a lot of community support. The Bank of Hannibal gave us a donation toward any expenses that we could incur on this trip.”
Between the state and national contests, the local students had an opportunity to do some first-hand learning. “When Judge Sketch Rendlen heard we got first in the state, he invited my students to bankruptcy court, the Federal Court,” Haner explained. “He had the four kids and myself to the courtroom, and it was a good experience. We had a couple questions.”
Haner’s HHS personal finance classes are offered to juniors and seniors, he said. “Juniors can take my finance I class. The junior age students are more focused about money matters than the younger students.”
His personal finance II classes for seniors include a lot of field trips and hands-on things, Haner said. “A week ago our finance II students went to an insurance office to learn about insurance.”
His students will benefit from their financial skills all their lives, he said. “They are going to be able to use everything they learned on a daily basis for the rest of their life.
“When I taught my kids how to file their taxes, I said, ‘Every April 15 you will think of me.’ ... We just finished a unit on investing and we are starting a unit on credit.”