WHS students face grownup choices at financial fair


Sweet new ride or payment into retirement account? Vacation or health care?

Westport High School students faced many such choices when the school held its first Credit for Life Fair on April 11.  This financial literacy program puts students in the position of 25-year old adults with financial responsibilities and budgets to manage. Westport High’s entire 115-student junior class took part

"All of our students must take a personal finance class as a graduation requirement," said Principal Cheryl Tutalo. "Credit for Life gave them the opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to a real life situation … I am truly impressed with the wise decisions many of them have been making in regard to their theoretical budgets.”

During the Fair, the students were expected to make the same sort of decisions they will be faced with as adults, but in a safe, no-fail environment.  Over a span of two-hours, students visited 14 booths to make decisions that affected their budgets. They were required to find a place to live, purchase furniture, choose a car, and budget for the other items they both need and want.

The booths, each staffed by members of the community, included housing, furniture, health and nutrition, transportation, insurance, clothing, credit and lending, community service, savings and retirement, education, job search, luxury, credit counseling, and the 'reality check booth,' which challenges budgets with car repairs, a lost wallet and other unexpected expenses to remind students that life is full of surprises.

The event was made possible by numerous volunteers from the community, as well as the following sponsors: BayCoast Bank, Robert’s Formals, Lee’s Supermarket, the Westport Council on Aging, Shaw’s Supermarkets, Westport Federal Credit Union, Bristol Community College, MassHousing, Mechanics Cooperative Bank, Partners Insurance Group LLC., Sovereign Bank, the Bristol Workforce Investment Board, McNally Associates Real Estate, EZ Home Search Real Estate, and William Raveis Real Estate.

The Credit for Life Fair was originally created by Consumer Credit Counseling Services and has received national awards for providing a highly interactive simulation in the basics of budgeting and managing credit.



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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.