Twenty five Archbishop Williams High School students had the opportunity to discuss, debate, and vote on their national financial priorities at the Federal Budget Simulation workshop held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, March 23.
Seniors from two classes, Personal Finance with Ms. Joanne Adams, and Economics Honors with Ms. Jordan Grubb, were among 135 students from five eastern Massachusetts urban and suburban high schools to analyze and make recommendations on President Donald Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion FY’18 budget.
“”I like how we all were able to have our own opinions on what to do with the budget,” said Jackie McEachern. “Even though we all had different views, we could all make recommendations on changes.”
“It was fun,” said Liam Brearley. “We really heard different points of view. For instance, we had one student who is going into the military who wanted to keep that budget as is, while another wanted to take money out of that program for another program.”
The AWHS students were joined by students from the J.D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, Roxbury; Sacred Heart High School, Kingston; Somerset Berkley Regional High School, Somerset; and Weston High School.
“I liked working with students from other schools, schools that are different from ours,” said Francesco Boncaldo, who noted that AWHS was the only Catholic School at this workshop.
After an initial overview of the program, the students met for 90 minutes in small, mixed-school groups of about a dozen students each to dissect the discretionary part of the budget which includes 14 categories, ranging from National Defense as the largest at $67 billion, to Energy as the smallest at $6 billion. Presented in a table-game format, they debated the issues and then moved chips, each worth $10 billion dollars, to and from categories based on a majority vote of the group.
“Sometimes it felt awkward with with so many different points of view being expressed,” said Brian Keating, “but in the end, we were able to make a recommendation on each category.”
With their small-group work behind them, the groups returned to the auditorium to compare all of the groups’ combined recommendations, which were displayed in a chart on an overhead screen and which were defended by representatives of each group.
“The students sit and do what Congress is actually doing right now.” said Ms. Grubb who moderated one of the small group sessions. “By the students having hands-on experience writing one of these budgets and deciding what they will or will not keep, the issues and the budget process really hit home to them. The simulation is excellent because it has real life application.”
Ms. Grubb was especially pleased after the program with the positive responses of her students who even asked to continue the exercise in class.
“The experience helped them understand the process,” Ms. Grubb said. “Because of it, they’ll be better voters, better citizens!”