Students celebrate $19 trillion debt milestone

East Mendenburg, PA – It was a long time coming for the 10th grade Financial Literacy class in East Mendenburg High School in central Pennsylvania. Months prior, on their way out the door after a lesson students handed their teacher Mr. Von Burgen a sheet of paper containing a date. KeepCalmAndBorrowOnThis exit activity followed a lesson on the federal budget, debt trends and deficit. Their submission was in response to the question: On what date do you believe the current debt of the U.S. will reach $19 trillion? Mr. Von Burgen explained, “This activity required the students to apply a variety of skills. By visiting usdebtclock.org, they were able to observe the debt increasing in real-time. Among the tasks they had to successfully navigate were measuring the rate of growth in the debt using a time sample of several minutes, extrapolating that out to a full day and calculating how far the current debt was from $18 trillion.” He adds, “So that the students would really apply themselves, I announced that the person with the closest date would be exempt from homework for the rest of the marking period. That really got them fired up.”

As 2016 rang in, students who remained in the hunt revisited the debt clock and used the latest data to assess their chances. As January drew to a close student Jared Graham was sitting pretty. He had guessed Monday, February 1, 2016. Sure enough, the last several billion ticked off the prior weekend and the milestone was reached on the 1st. And that’s when the celebration began. Amidst fist-pumps and high-fives Jared revealed the reason for his upbeat mood,

“Over the course of the fall, Mr. Von Burgen explained to us that a nation’s debt is a measure of its strength and credit worthiness. He told us that investors lend money to borrowers they believe are a good credit risk. So, the higher our debt, the stronger we must be!”

studentcelebrationWhen the magic number was reached, Mr. Von Burgen handed out two $100,000 chocolate bars to each student. He then offered to accept them back as symbolic payment of their family’s share of the debt. Few of the students took him up on his offer. Student Gianna Leonardi was happy to be a part of another milestone, saying “My generation has been taught to appreciate important accomplishments in life. The first was graduation from kindergarten. Over the years I’ve collected enough medals and certificates of participation that my mom has dedicated our guest bedroom to them.” Toward the end of the period the students exchanged personal information, vowing to keep in touch as they move on to junior and senior years. As the bell rang and they began working their way toward the door, student Josh Mulaney turned and proclaimed, “We’re going to hit $20 trillion before we graduate. Now that would be a reason to have a party!”

Disclaimer: The national debt may be in excess of $19 trillion, but everything else about this article is false.

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