Stokes Griffith enjoyed a new personal finance class at South Aiken High School as a junior so much that he took it again this year.


“It's always been one of my dreams to do well in life,” said Griffith, who plans to attend The Citadel in the fall. “I loved the class, and it's going to pay off for me.”


With the enthusiastic approval of Principal Bryan Skipper, teacher Lloyd Yaun introduced the class last year. It's been so popular that Yaun will add two more finance classes in the fall.


That decision would not have been possible without a donation from Steve Marbert, president and owner of Money$MD, Richard Young Associates, and John Travis, an advisor with the firm. Their contribution will fund the program at South Aiken for the next five years.


Travis is a CSRA Endorsed Local Provider for Dave Ramsey, an author and radio show host, who has written books and lessons on personal finance issues. Skipper had been through an adult series of lessons and talked with Travis about a South Aiken class. Yaun has been so impressed with the Ramsey lessons that he revamped the class to bring in the Dave Ramsey structure.


“People have come in and said they wish they had started this in their 20s,” said Travis. “Now we've started the curriculum option for kids.”


In an era when people owe more money than they have difficulty handling, Yaun wants his students to learn now about home ownership or renting, bank accounts and incurring too much debt.


“To my kids, it's like personal finance 101,” Yaun said. “They can learn how to save and invest money. The program emphasizes no credit cards. Moms and dads may not even know a lot of this.”


The traditional book and materials used in such a class were dull and boring, even incurring insomnia, Skipper said. While the adult curriculum offers nine-week sessions, the high school class continues throughout the entire year.


“This program has a lot more information and is more relevant to the students' level,” Skipper said.


The topics include the use of money envelopes that encourage the practical needs related to spending, saving and giving. Skipper introduced that practice to his 10-year-old daughter, and said with a smile that “She seems to be doing better than me.”


A South Aiken junior, Sarah Zamiela, had learned a lot about financial matters from her parents.


“But I wanted to learn more and start fresh, like I will be when I go to college,” she said. “I want to see in this class how I can help myself.”


Zamiela hopes to become a physician, and is well aware of the debt she could face.


“This class is a huge step to help me prepare my future,” she said. “Mr. Yaun brings in articles every day about what's going on right now.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.