The next time fans of the East Forsyth Eagles are sweating out a close game, they can thank Marlee Young for helping cooler heads prevail. Young, a rising senior at East Forsyth, with assistance from art coordinator Brittany Myrick, has designed a special “spirit towel” for use by the fans and cheerleaders of the Eagles. Based on the new evaporative cooling towels used by pro athletes such as Serena Williams and Dewayne Wade, Young’s new “spirit towels” come in two separate styles, proudly bear the school colors, and will be helping to raise spirits even as they are dropping temperatures starting this fall.
Young’s is just one of the many success stories coming out of East Forsyth High School these days. The school is preparing many of our young people for the business world of tomorrow through its lauded Finance Academy, a member of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). In fact, the East Forsyth High School Finance Academy has been recognized with the NAF’s highest honor, the designation of “Model Academy,” awarded to less than 20 percent of all participating academies nationwide. In order to achieve this designation, an academy undergoes a rigorous annual assessment designed to help an academy “gauge their progress and increase their alignment to NAF’s standards.” Only the highest scoring academies are designated as Model. This is the second time in three years that East Forsyth High School’s Finance Academy has received this honor.
According to Jennifer Haymes Schurman, the finance coordinator at East Forsyth High School, the school started the Finance Academy in 2005 with 15 students enrolled in the first class. Today, the school boasts an astounding 180 future business leaders enrolled between 10th and 12th grades. Students begin the process as incoming freshmen, having to apply to even be accepted into the Finance Academy. Successful applicants are then required to take courses such as Principles of Accounting and Applied Finance in addition to their regular course load.
“Any student who is interested in joining the academy has to apply at the end of their freshman year, just like they would for a real job out in the world, and they have to commit a full three years to the academy, in addition to completing at least 100 internship hours with a local business by their senior year.”
Jennifer went on to say, “Students have to fill out a job application, develop a resume, and sit through an interview in order to be considered.”
The East Forsyth High School Finance Academy is about much more than just a few extra classes. In addition to the extra course load, the entire academy is structured like its own Fortune 500 company, complete with an executive board. Positions ranging from chief executive officer and executive vice president all the way down through director of academy affairs are applied for and filled by academy students. Officers of the academy are expected to not only run the day-to-day affairs of the academy, but are also required to meet regularly with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce.
As if the special courses, curriculum, and interactions geared towards academy students were not enough, possibly the greatest benefit of all is the internship program. Each and every student in the Finance Academy is required to work at least 100 hours for participating local businesses, but don’t get the wrong idea, these internships are not just handed out. These are paid positions, and the students of the academy are required to go through the same kind of hiring process that any other job applicant would be expected to. The 100 hour requirement, while at first glance is seemingly excessive, is in fact the heart of the program. It is designed to give academy students a real, valuable business experience. The hours need to be completed within a year’s time, but employers are more than fair when it comes to how the student reaches his or her goal, whether it be four weeks in the summer, four hours a night during school, or even one hour a day.
One of the most popular internships is with Truliant Federal Credit Union, which has been working closely with the Finance Academy from the very beginning. Students can apply to positions not only with the regular branch, but also with the on-campus East Forsyth High School Campus Credit Union, powered by Truliant. These positions give academy students a real hands-on business experience and a great feel for the day-to-day world of high finance.
Internships can take numerous forms; however, students who wish to pursue other avenues during their work experience can apply to positions with the Winston Salem/Forsyth County School system, the aforementioned Truliant Federal Credit Union, Austin-Ross Financial Inc., and many others.
Young did her internship with Pura Vida Promotions Inc., a local full service advertising specialty company. It was while working with Pura Vida that Young came up with the idea for and designed the specially branded towel that will be marketed to East Forsyth Eagles fans this coming fall.
When asked what valuable lesson she has learned from the Finance Academy, Young commented, “I have learned how to write a check and balance my checking account, and there are many people my age that don’t even know how to do these things.”