Personal finance team repeats state win, prepares for nationals

Shannon Freese

A mix of math, law and monetary awareness set the base for the multitude of questions that Rock Bridge’s personal finance team battled in order to win the state contest on April 20. After edging out the  teams across the area regional competition – including two other Rock Bridge teams – the victorious quartet of seniors Christian Ackmann, Amy Scott, Nick Sun and Tina Wang went on to win state for the second time in a row.
“It was fun because we knew the competition. I was excited because we have experience, and we could do the same or better this year,” senior Tina Wang said. “After last year’s competition we kind of decided we were going to do it again because we wanted another shot at nationals.”
To these students, personal finance isn’t just a class.  It’s a competition, just like baseball or soccer. And like those, they have their state competitions. For the third year in a row, RBHS will be attending nationals, this time in St. Louis, Mo., with the goal of obtaining what they have never done before – a first at nationals. What drove the team members through the competition so far was the bond they forged the previous year. With their experience, they could tell the questions were more challenging, but their ability to work together helped them pull together.
“I feel like the questions were harder, but we also knew much more so it kind of evened out. We probably feel more experience than the other national teams, so we feel that we can do well this year,” Wang said. “When we made our group, we knew we were somewhat friends, but we all knew we could work together well and that showed last year.”
RBHS’ Personal Finance team’s trial at state last year will help them in the upcoming national tournament according to the team’s sponsor Susan Lidholm. Not being the only junior team – like they were last year – is definitely an advantage, as well has knowing the competition structure and the atmosphere of the competition.
“I think [last year] gave them the experience. You know, having that experience helps a lot,” Lidholm said. ” We got close to national two years ago – we came in second. [Last year] they did well. It was a growth year for us. Most teams at national were seniors, and we were the only junior team. So I’m feeling good about nationals.”
Along with helping coach the team, Lidholm continues to hope she can bring awareness to students’ personal finance. The world is rapidly changing; finances and the way to take care of monetary needs fluctuates from day to day in today’s fast-paced world, Lidholm said.
“I just really want to bring attention to personal finance,” Lidholm said. “I can teach kids 20 percent of what they need to know, but 80 percent is behavior because rules are changing.”
As for the RBHS team, winning state has been a recurring theme. For Lidholm, however, this is only the beginning.
“This has been in existence for six years now, and winning three of the six years is pretty exciting,” Lidholm said. ” We got close to national two years ago – we came in second. [Last year] they did well. It was a growth year for us. … So I’m feeling good about nationals.
By Shannon Freese
additional reporting by Daphne Yu