Four students from Arthur County High School in Arthur and their teacher, Tammie Swanson, were recognized Wednesday by Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg for placing third in the National Personal Finance Challenge last month in Kansas City, Missouri.
The students, Peyton Flack, Madison Rut, Brenna Larsen, and Georgie Lage, were the first team from Nebraska to place in the top ten in the national competition. The team earned a spot in the national competition after taking first place April 21 in the Nebraska Personal Finance Challenge, sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education.
At Wednesday’s event in the State Capitol, Treasurer Stenberg also recognized students and teachers from Norris High School and Omaha Northwest High Magnet School, who placed second and third in the state competition.
“One of the things I have noted in the five years that I have been involved in the Personal Finance Challenge is the importance of the teams’ teachers and sponsors. I have seen some of the same teachers year after year. This reinforces my belief in the value of quality teaching and in the strength of Nebraska schools regardless of size. Many of our Finance Challenge winners have come from medium- and small-size schools, like Arthur County, with only 11 students in the graduating class,” said Treasurer Stenberg.
The Arthur County team members credited their success in the national competition to their teacher, Mrs. Swanson; their parents; their attitude toward education; and the lessons learned through their rural and ranch life in western Nebraska. They said they all take school seriously.
Swanson’s 20-year experience in public accounting gave the students insight into real-life financial situations and helped them understand financial concepts, the students said.
“As one of the smallest rural schools in Nebraska, we were honored to place among the top three teams in the nation. We would like to thank Jennifer Davidson and the Nebraska Council on Economic Education for this amazing opportunity. The Arthur County Schools team was proud to represent Nebraska at the National Finance Challenge in Kansas City,” Swanson said.
As state winners, the Arthur County team members each received a $2,000 contribution to a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) college savings account. Treasurer Stenberg is Trustee of NEST. They intend to put their winnings to good use as they head off to college in the fall.
Madison Rut will study nursing and play basketball at Hastings College. Brenna Larsen will study nursing and music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Peyton Flack plans to study elementary education at Chadron State College. And Georgie Lage will study agri-business and compete in rodeo events at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Members of the second-place team in the Nebraska competition from Norris High School each received a $1,000 contribution to a NEST college savings account. Team members are Zach Granatowicz, Keegan Schuchart, Keaton Plautz, and Lane Whipple. Their teacher is Justin McGill.
The third-place team in Nebraska from Omaha Northwest High Magnet School was made up of Zoe Thorson, Adam Strasser, Brett Hillabrand, and Randall Schindler. Each received a $500 contribution to a NEST account. The teacher is Susan Dimmitt.
“We’ll be back next year,” Zoe Thorson told Treasurer Stenberg at the end of the Capitol visit.
In addition to meeting with Treasurer Stenberg, the students visited with Michael Walden-Newman, the state’s chief investment officer with the Nebraska Investment Council, and Jennifer Davidson, president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education headquartered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The students also toured the State Capitol and the Ferguson House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, near the Capitol.