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posted: 4/26/2012 5:45 PM

Local high schools aim to help students make smart money choices

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Some McHenry County high schools are introducing an online financial literacy program to educate students on how to make smart decisions with their money so that they don't end up like the guy on that commercial for free credit reports.

The program, which is sponsored by American Community Bank and Trust, and Everfi, an education technology company in Washington, D.C., provides students resources from opening a bank account to consumer fraud. Financial literacy education is required as part of the consumer education curriculum in Illinois.

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Although more than 300 students at Huntley High School already are using Everfi's American Community Bank and Trust Financial Scholars Program, the program will soon be introduced at schools in Crystal Lake High School District 155, McHenry High School District 156 and Woodstock District 200, as well as Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock.

"This is another way for students to reinforce their financial literacy," said Cathy Bardy, a business education teacher at Huntley High. "It complements what they are learning but is another way for students to learn other than in textbooks."

Students are given access to a website though Everfi, which includes 10 modules or areas of focus. Each module takes about 40 minutes to complete and students are assessed on their knowledge.

"We have learned over the years that financial literacy is critically important, but many parents are not passing on knowledge to their children," said Charie Zanck, CEO of American Community Bank and Trust. "Students are inundated with offers for credit cards or get into debt with credit cards and don't know the implications."

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