Penn-Trafford School District students who are prepping for graduation have more than a few requirements to check off their lists before they can earn a diploma.
Students must complete 4 credits of English, 3.5 credits of social studies, 3 or 4 courses of math, 3 or 4 courses of science, 2 credits of humanities, 1 credit of physical education, 0.5 credits of health and 1 credit of Keystone assessments to be eligible to graduate.
Soon, they’ll have one more requirement — a career and personal finance class, which focuses on advising young people on how to make smart monetary choices in their future.
School board members approved the personal finance course this week as an addition to the district’s graduation requirements, beginning with the Class of 2025.
The program will fit into the state Academic Standards for Career Education and Work, a Pennsylvania Department of Education learning requirement.
High school Principal Tony Aquilio says the program has been “revamped” from its origins as an elective course, which previously was taught by Dennis Kosoglow for the past 20 years.
“We’ve had the class previously, and we’ve now kind of revamped it. Now, it will be an actual requirement,” Aquilio said. “We feel it is so important for our kids to leave the high school with knowledge of risk factors of financing investments, of real estate, banking, online banking, credit card fraud, the basics of personal banking all the way up to real estate investments and risk factors.”
Kosoglow’s original course curriculum will be condensed and divided into two semesters. The first semester will be the required course, and the second will be an optional course for students who are interested in digging deeper.
“Our thought process is that, right now, it is simply an elective course, and the material (Kosoglow) teaches and the content he teaches is so relevant to kids, it’s our opinion that every kid should have to go through that type of course,” Aquilio said.
The mandatory version of the course will be aimed at juniors and seniors, Aquilio said.
“For those kids who already think they know what they want to take next year, we are going to provide an online version and a summer online version,” Aquilio said. “If they are creating their schedule in January and they say they weren’t planning on taking this course, we are going to offer another option to make sure it doesn’t conflict with their regularly scheduled classes.”
Kosoglow hopes that aiming the class at older students will help provide them with useful information when they’re more prepared to understand it.
“They have a better understanding of money, a majority of them have earned money to some degree at that point, and they’re already eyeing up what’s after high school,” he said. “I give credit to our guidance department and administration for getting them to think about what I want to do.”
Kosoglow credits the success of the class to his focus on students. He begins the first day of the course by talking to students about their ideas and hopes for the future.
“They commit themselves to the program because they realize it is 120% applicable to the real world,” he said. “We look at their own aspirations and dreams, their goals about what they want out of life, and we measure that with their aptitudes and attitudes about certain subjects. From there, we’re able to design the program around them.”
Students follow a financial lifetime through the class, learning about and practicing the skills needed to create resumes, make budgets, simulate banking and investments, and even look ahead to retirement.
“As we look back at a typical adult, and they reflect upon some of their purchases, a lot of people wish that they would have chosen differently,” Kosoglow said, adding that students are often surprised when they learn about their own spending habits through budgeting.
“Even the parents wish they would have had a course like this when they were in school.”
Julia Maruca is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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