‘LifeSmarts’ pays off for Los Banos teens

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 16, 2014 

Representatives from Century 21 M&M and Associates presented the San Luis High School LifeSmarts team with $500 Tuesday.

COREY PRIDE — cpride@losbanosenterprise.com Buy Photo

Five San Luis High School students will finish the school year knowing they’ve done something none of their predecessors had accomplished: They finished 31st.

“It’s the best we’ve ever done,” said teacher Karen Ellington.

She was the coach of the continuation school’s team for the National Consumers League’s 2014 National LifeSmarts Championship. The competition was held April 26-29 in Florida.

“We’ve gone for years and we’ve been last. This year we were 31 out of 35 schools. We competed against private schools, charter schools home-schooled kids. We were the only continuation school there,” Ellington said.

LifeSmarts covers five areas of consumer awareness: health and safety, personal finance, technology, consumer rights and responsibilities, and environment. The idea is to develop the consumer and marketplace skills of teens.

Out of the eight years San Luis High has participated, it has produced six state champions.

The team members take an online test and the highest score in California gets an invite to the national version.

This year’s team - Don Allen, Maria Suarez, Ricky Hall, Espi Coleman and Sorsha Young - studied in class to the point where they could recite financial regulations in the fine print of most consumer transaction agreements.

Don and Maria said most of the questions during the national competition dealt with warranties and bank accounts. When asked about the experience, Espi casually said, “It was cool.”

The trip, which is in Washington state next year, typically costs a few thousand dollars. Century 21 M&M and Associates presented the San Luis High team with $500 Tuesday.

The trip is typically paid for through donations from businesses and individuals.

Realtor Geneva Brett said her company likes to encourage young people in their educational pursuits.

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