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Dimes, Dollars and Decisions...

A young acting troupe from Minneapolis entertained middle school students Sept. 25 in Kenmare with comedy and some drama, but with an educational message.

10/09/18 (Tue)

A young acting troupe from Minneapolis entertained middle school students Sept. 25 in Kenmare with comedy and some drama, but with an educational message.

The North Dakota Department of Securities brought the Dimes, Dollars and Decisions financial literacy program to Kenmare to teach financial topics in a way the students could understand.

Kevin Lozano and Michaela Moore are part of the National Theatre for Children with the goal of using theatrical comedy to inspire students to begin developing good money habits at a young age.

Kenmare is one of only 10 schools in North Dakota this year to land the comedy troupe. Others include Minot middle schools, New Town, Beach, Dickinson, New Salem, Mandan and Bismarck.

Through a series of four comedic sketches, the actors engaged audience participation to help students become familiar with the following personal financial topics: The difference between credit and debit cards, what taxes are, the importance of forming a savings habit and how insurance works.

“We’re here to talk about your money,” Lozano said. “We are here to explain debit and credit and the difference.”

Each of the audience members were instructed to write something on a sheet of paper which were collected and placed in a large jar on the stage floor.

As Moore and Lozano were carrying out their first sketch, they began pulling suggestions out of the jar and used the words to teach their points.

According to Moore, by the time the students are 21 years old, one-third of them will have credit cards.

“So learn how they work now,” she said. “Good credit will help you get car and house loans.”

She added it’s important to know that as soon as a credit card bill arrives in the mail, it needs to be paid to avoid being strapped by interest.

They explained that using a debit card, although similar to a credit card, uses money you actually have and that money sometimes runs out.

And that’s where credit cards become an issue.

“Only borrow what you can pay back tomorrow,” Moore said. “Pay the bill as soon as it arrives.”

Teaching the point of taxes, the comedians used a fast-food skit to teach illustrate.

At that time, Sheldon Skar was asked to join them on the stage. Moore and Skar played the role of employees at a pet store who went to a fast-food restaurant for lunch. The fast-food employee, Lozano, pointed out why they had to pay tax on their meal.

When they got back to work, they received their paychecks, which weren’t as much as they were supposed to be because of payroll taxes.

Lozano summarized they talked about sales tax, the benefits of taxation and not to forget to add the tax when figuring expenses or your paycheck.

The insurance sketch was really interesting, especially to the students. Pizza insurance was used to stress the point of why insurance is important.

“To make it in the world, you need to understand insurance,” Moore said. “The more dangerous, the higher the premium. It’s all based on statistics.”

Lozano, who portrayed someone who really likes pizza, had pizza insurance in theater.

Allison Rudland joined Lozano on stage and they became part of a game show skit hosted by Moore.

Moore asked Rudland if she wanted pizza insurance and she said no. Lozano said yes.

Moore then took Rudland to the “wall of calamity,” where she had to make guesses about insurance in order to win prizes.

“Pay some now so you don’t have to pay a whole lot later,” Lozano said at the end of the skit. “We want to undo undue risk.”

Abigail McNeiley joined Moore and Lozano for the final skit about savings.

Moore was spending money at the mall and when she found out about a Drake concert in New York City. She couldn’t go because she didn’t have enough money to make the trip and was distressed.

McNeiley portrayed Moore’s friend and played along with the comedy very well.

After learning of the concert and not being able to go, Lozano told Moore, “I’ve been trying to tell you the cost of something.”

Moore summarized, saying you have to think before you spend money.

The financial concepts covered in Dimes, Dollars and Decisions live shows are reinforced by student playbooks, teacher guides, e-books and digital games and activities that align with financial concepts presented in the performances and are provided at no cost to the schools through the North Dakota Securities Departments’ sponsorship.

“Learning about personal finance at a young age is key to making smart decisions on money matters throughout all life stages,” said Karen Tyler, commissioner of the North Dakota Securities Department. “We want to help our students develop healthy money habits before they bring home their first paycheck.”

The National Theater for Children is a premium provider of educational programming with operations in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. It works directly between schools and clients to promote beneficial behaviors and life skills.

In additional to financial literacy, the troupe teaches energy conservation, safety, STEM, water and environmental stewardship and health and social responsibility.

“We’ve educated millions of kids over the past 38 years,” said NTC founder and president Ward Eames. “A huge factor in the success of these programs is that students inspired about a topic will go home and pass the inspiration on to their families. It’s a way to spread a message into the greater community and help kids to prepare for their future. That’s very rewarding.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!