Maya Ginyard
Benjamin Banneker
Washington, DC
11th Grade
Third Place Winner

I’ve spent nearly a hundred weeks in high school and each of these weeks have been relatively identical.

I wake up early every morning at 6:35 am, I put on whatever fashionable outfit I conjured up the night

before, I pack a mediocre lunch consisting of last night’s leftovers, and I leave out the house before 7:55

to head to my neighborhood train station. I go through each of my classes everyday mindlessly writing

notes, answering warm up questions, and remembering deadlines until the end of the day, when I go to

either cheer leading practice or to my night class at the local state-university. All my routines, all my

notes, all my deadlines, prepare me for the next day. In my middle class family, we are always preparing

for the next day, the next bill, the next paycheck. If only high school prepared its students for the next

year or the next decade, through financial literacy curriculum, and classes dedicated to global citizenship

and family relationships.

Many high school students graduate without simply knowing what a credit score is, how to buy a house

or even how to pay off loans. Student loan debt is something that millions of Americans have to struggle

with. In fact, the average debt per college graduate in the U.S. is $37,172 (Goldy Brown). Researchers

have found that on average, it takes college graduates twenty-one years to pay off this tremendous

amount of debt (Bidwell). Incorporating financial literacy in school curriculum could not only aid in

reducing the amount of student loan debt in the United States, but also lead to graduates being able to

pay off their loans at a much quicker and easier rate. Specifically, financial literacy programs in high

school could include courses on: making major purchases like homes or cars, how to maintain a good

credit score, managing your money, investments within the stock market, and of course, avoiding or

paying off debts. As a young black girl born and raised in the inner-city, financial literacy isn’t as

prevalent in my community as it should be. I have seen firsthand, the consequences of lacking such

necessary knowledge and skills and I’m confident that if these skills were taught to inner city students,

the effects would be advantageous for the black and brown community. This addition to the high school

experience could be beneficial to our country as whole in that if people learn about finances prior to

becoming an adult with financial responsibilities, it could widely increase their wealth, promote economic

prosperity, and lessen the burden of student loan debts.

In today’s far from harmonious society, people inside and outside of the United States are suffering from

political tensions and poor leaders. One of the key solutions would be to teach the younger generations

the significance of being an aware and effective global citizen. In my small but important city of

Washington DC, politics are all around me yet throughout my educational career, I’ve barely been taught

what's going on just a few miles away at the infamous capitol hill. Moreover, a number of my peers have

little to no clue about the world that surrounds them. As teenagers, it’s easy and quite convenient to

forget that there’s more to life than our daily routines and that it’s our responsibility to change the world

for the children of the future. If school districts were to implement classes for high school students that

focused on teaching their students how to vote properly, what to look for in a political leader, how to find

the right political party for them, how to keep up with current global events, or even how to make a

difference in society; our country would be less likely to fall under the likes of an administration that we

have now. This would in turn, prepare high school students not just for the next day but for the years to

come and the millions of lives that will be affected not just in america but around the globe.

Furthermore, an educational emphasis on domestic relationships and building a family could also be

beneficial to teenagers transitioning into adulthood. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic

Violence, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the

United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” ( NCDAV) These

numbers reflect an increasingly severe domestic violence issue in the United States. If school systems

decided to include courses meant to teach students about domestic life and relationships, then the

amount of domestic abuse victims and cases would decrease. This may seem like an issue of less

importance compared to other problems in the United States but despite popular knowledge, domestic

abuse has negative economic effects as well. For example, researchers have found that “Victims of

intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.” (NCDAV). This is

emblematic of the fact that victims suffer not just mentally and physically but financially as well, which

could be detrimental to the overall US economy. Domestic violence is an issue in all communities, Black,

White, Asian, Latino; and even the slightest lesson on how to properly solve a dispute with your partner

could go a long way in combating this problem. In high school, teenagers learn how to interact with each

other not only academically, but romantically as well especially being that our bodies and minds are

beginning to further develop. In order to truly solve the matter of domestic violence, it is pivotal that high

school students are taught about forming domestic relationships and establishing family units not only at

home, but at school too, which is where majority of their interactions with others occur.

Ultimately, in order for high school students to be truly prepared for their not too distant future, it is

imperative that school systems establish financial literacy-based curriculum and classes on global

citizenship and domestic relations. Teenagers including myself can be misunderstood, hard to handle,

and not the best at making good decisions but nonetheless, we are the sole keepers of tomorrow. The

state of our world and our society in the next ten to twenty years, depends on our generation, as it did

for the generations before us. Along with the support and guidance from our parents, high school is

supposed to not only launch us onto the thrilling roller coaster that is adulthood but also equip us with

the skill and knowledge that is needed to withstand it’s sudden drops, high speeds, and unexpected

turns.

Work Cited

Baldwelll, Allie. “Student Loan Expectations: Myth vs. Reality.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/10/07/student-loan-expectations-myth-vsreality.

Goldy-Brown, Sarah. “Student Loan Debt Statistics in 2018 - Student Debt Relief.” Student Debt Relief | Student Loan Forgiveness, Student Debt Relief | Student Loan Forgiveness, 17 Aug. 2018, www.studentdebtrelief.us/student-loans/student-debt-statistics/.

“NCADV | National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation's Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, NCADV, ncadv.org/statistics.