JA Student Sarah Finch's remarks from JA Finance Park® Fairfax County Advisory Meeting

On January 6, 2017, the JA Finance Park® Northern Virginia Advisory Council held their first meeting of the new year at JA Finance Park® Fairfax County. 

The Northern Virginia Advisory Council plays an instrumental role in the foundation and sustainability of each of JA Finance Parks® Fairfax County. The council, chaired by Ruth Ann Clark, Senior Vice President & Regional Vice President - Commercial Banking for Wells Fargo & Company, is comprised of prominent community leaders who are highly committed to our mission and empowering our staff to be the best they can be. 

Together, they work to help Junior Achievement:

  • develop strong linkages within each respective county; 
  • build strategic partnerships;
  • secure sustainable funding; and
  • identify volunteer resources.

    At the meeting on January 6, JA alumni and Robinson Secondary School student, Sarah Finch was invited to share her experiences and reflections about her JA Finance Park® experience with the Advisory Council members. Below are here remarks.

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so much for letting me come and listening what I have to say about JA Finance Park. I’m Sarah Finch and I’m a 8th grader at Robinson Secondary School.

Before coming to JA Finance Park, Mr. Burns, my civics teacher, led us through the booklet
and taught us skills like why and how much money you should put in savings, how to
create a budget and calculating net monthly income. I also learned that you can still buy
the things you like without sacrificing necessities. We also learned the differences
between credit cards and debit cards, which I didn’t know before. The booklet also made a bridge between math and economics, and I actually worked from it in Algebra and Civics. It was the kind of thing that SHOULD have felt like a chore, but was actually really fun to do.

I really liked how JA Finance Park was set up, and that there were real world interactions. I
was amazed at how well put together the shops were. It was great to have my own
personalized scenario and to be able to compare with other students how much money
they make, because in the real world you can’t do that.

When I had to make decisions (about car payments) it made me realize that it was better to pay off my car right away instead of making payments over time, because I saw that I would end up paying more with the accumulated interest. But because I had to put a large amount of money towards my car, I had to sacrifice buying other things that I wanted.

It was also interesting to talk to my friends about how they were spending their money
and what was really important to them. My friends Caden and Andi both made much
more than me, spent their money wisely, and didn’t splurge too much. I, on the other
hand, overestimated on how much money I made, and ended up spending about 1,000
dollars on clothes for myself, all the while forgetting that people need to eat food. I
learned a lot from that mistake, and I’m proud to say that if I were to get a do-over, I’d
try and make better decisions.

I’m a military kid, and Robinson is the 6th school I’ve been to. It’s the first time I’ve ever
been taught about finance and budgeting applied to the real world, and honestly, I think
there couldn’t have been a better way to do it than JA Finance Park."