A unique day occurred at Hawthorne Elementary School when professional business volunteers bombarded the school grounds, bringing with them a program called Junior Achievement. With an insightful curriculum and colorful presentations, each presenter brought their own special touch in the area of business and money issues. The materials were created to accommodate an understanding of the business and economic world within specific grade levels.

Richard Bryant and his son, Jeff Bryant, made for an enthusiastic duo, as each moment contained personal stories, printed games, brainstorming and a tag team of new ideas.

Presenting to Mr. Mayes sixth graders, which included students from Schurz Elementary, an astonishing figure of 94,000,000 was shared to be the number of people out of work, some of which had no job skills and some with college backgrounds.

With an emphasis on job training, career skills and the possibility of business ownership, the Bryant’s were quick to
point out the importance of beginning
to focus on a solid future while the students
are young. When the question was
asked, “Who wants to be poor?” not one
child raised a hand. A second follow up
question was, “Who would like to be
successful enough to be in the position to
help others?” most of the students were
quick to raise their hands.

The Junior Achievement program was
sponsored by a financial gift of $100,000
given specifically to bring the materials
to Mineral and Lyon County students.
John and Karin Jelavich from Reno were
kind enough to not only attend the full
day event, they also participated. Along
with the Jelavich’s, our local Financial
Horizons Credit Union was represented
along with local businesses and professional
firms.

Familiar faces included retired volunteers
and surprisingly enough over
five businesses came in from Reno and
Sparks to be part of the day. Representatives
from Bank of America; Wells Fargo;
Microsoft; Nevada State Bank; Greater
Nevada Credit Union and Edward Jones
were in attendance, teaching various age
groups the quality Junior Achievement
materials, while drawing from their own
personal experiences.

In the eighth grade class, held at Mineral
County High School, Elizabeth Vessal’s
students from Schurz had gathered
to learn about banking; stocks; savings;
spread sheets; insurance and company
investments. Ila Achtabowski, a Reno financial
advisor, joined up with investor
John Jelivich in defining money issues.
The Schurz students attended a full day
with their teacher, experiencing the atmosphere
of the Hawthorne school,
combined with learning the discipline
and patience that comes with the responsibility
of money. The information
which usually spans over six weeks was
presented to these high achieving eighth
graders within one day. Each student
was presented with a certificate for their
participation and it was an acknowledgment
toward their success.

The future of Junior Achievement
within Mineral County will be reviewed
as an annual event. The students that
were involved, from second to eighth
grade, seemed to embrace the business
concepts in a participative way, as did
all the volunteers. The students seemed
focused and interested in the areas of
business and making money, as many
questions were asked and the interaction
grew hour by hour in each class.