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Florence 1 Schools offers first-in-the-state Bloomberg course

Florence 1 Schools has introduced a brand-new economics course this school year, becoming the first K-12 school district in the state to offer it. The district was able to introduce the course thanks, in part, to a grant from The School Foundation.

In the new Bloomberg Market Concepts course, high school students learn about economic indicators, currency, portfolio management, income and equity. Students can track the financial market in real-time on tickers around their labs, bringing Wall Street to Florence. Upon completing the online learning modules during the course, students will earn certification through Bloomberg, a global finance company. F1S Social Studies Coordinator Dr. Katrina Rouse said this will give students a competitive edge.

“Having a program like this sets Florence 1 apart because, typically, this is a course that would be used in college,” Rouse said. “Our students will be equipped with knowledge of the tools top financial advisors use to make decisions that impact our global economy. The certifications they earn can be used on their resumes and can benefit them when they begin looking for internships in the financial industry.” 

A room was renovated at all three high schools with brand new furniture and Bloomberg terminals, a computer system that allows the students to access real-time stock trading and other financial data.

“The School Foundation was happy to donate $50,000 to help fund the Bloomberg programs in Florence 1 Schools,” said Debbie Hyler, Executive Director of The School Foundation. “We felt like this was a very innovative program and something that was very needed. We are pleased to partner with the district to offer something that is the first of its kind in the state of South Carolina.”

Wilson senior Madeline Nelson said that she can already see ways to apply the concepts she’s learning in the course.

“I was interested in taking this course because it was new, something that had never been offered before,” Nelson said. “I think this is one course you will actually use outside of high school, something you can apply to life. The most interesting thing for me is seeing how many different layers of money there are. How it is used, how people loan it and invest it. I didn’t realize there were so many different ways to use money.”

Nelson said that what she has learned will help her manage her own money in the future.

Brigina Dicks-Woolridge teaches the course at Wilson. She said that when she is talking with her students, she often reflects on the lessons she learned from her father.

“I am fortunate that my father was always interested in investing,” Dicks-Woolridge said. “He always talked about money and the value of a dollar, not buying things until they were at your price. Still, to this day, I will not buy something at full price.”

Dicks-Woolridge said that she plans to invest in bitcoin so that her class can track the value over their time together.

“They are dying to start investing and I think that will be fun,” she said. “I think one of the most important concepts for them to understand is compounding interest. If they start putting $100 a month away at age sixteen, or eighteen or so, by the time they are retired they could be a millionaire. Having that fixed amount placed in an account, it grows and compounds.”  

The class consists of three sections. Ka’varie Evans, a Sophomore at Wilson, was the first in his class to complete the first section’s four modules.

“Once I started getting into the certificate part, I started really enjoying the class; that’s the part I really like,” Evans said. “All of this was new to me. I haven’t really planned what I want to do with my future yet but this is something that I can fall back on in the future.”

South Florence teacher Aaron Stevens said his students have been drawn to the fact that they can track the stock prices for brands they are familiar with.

“My students enjoy learning about the blue chip stocks which they have brand loyalty towards,” Stevens said. “They are very curious about the patterns of the stock market and what makes the stocks fluctuate. 

Stevens said that he believes, with the knowledge they gain in the course, his students will be well prepared to make smart investment decisions as adults.

“The student’s biggest takeaway from the course is having the knowledge to not only know how to invest but where,” Stevens said. “Many people hear about investing their money and want to do so but do not know how to take action. I hope I give my students the ability to take advantage of one or more of these investment avenues to help create a more comfortable future for themselves.”