Junior Achievement drops in at Gonzales Primary

A group of students at Gonzales Primary School work together to complete a task as part of the Junior Achievement program.

The Junior Achievement program has hit the second grade classrooms at Gonzales Primary School. Junior Achievement is a non-profit helping students prepare for the world of work and learn fundamentals of personal finance.

For two weeks now, Junior Achievement volunteers have been teaching community concepts to the second grade classes in a program where volunteer Gary Lacombe says is beneficial for the community’s future leaders.

“I’ve been with Junior Achievement now for over 20 years and I’ve taught the second grade class for a number of years at other schools and I wanted to make sure we have it here in Gonzales,” Lacombe said, who spear-headed bringing the program to Gonzales.

“Our future is totally dependent on these youngsters, and the more we can equip them with financial literacy skills and business skills and community awareness it makes us all better in the long run,” Lacombe said.

The program Lacombe and the other Junior Achievement volunteer are implementing teaches exactly how the community functions, about why jobs are important and how taxes help fund the government and how the government provides the services that we come to expect.

“I’m glad to be a part of this,” Lacombe said.

Gonzales Primary School Principal Jaime Williams said she’d like to see it become an annual program because “I saw the genuine interest the students had in that first visit and follow-up.”

“Also after speaking to Mr. Lacombe, I was impressed with the reading/writing the students had to do to demonstrate what they learned," Williams said. “Anything that reinforces real world experiences and reflection for our young students is critical.”

Williams said the second grade teachers truly seemed to be impressed with the activities the students were participating in and “it falls right in light with our Social Living goals for this time of year as well.”

Second grade teacher Katherine Shamp said her initial impression of Junior Achievement was that it is a great way to educate the children about their role in their community as well as opening their eyes to their future possibilities as a citizen.

“Exposing the youth to the things Junior Achievement does is valuable to the students because not many of our students are exposed to such things in their daily lives,” Shamp said. “I think it is important for them to know what possibilities are out there for them. I feel that they will benefit greatly from seeing how different roles in the community are intertwined and dependent on others.”

Shamp also said she would love to see Junior Achievement done annually in second grade.

“Again, I feel that any child would benefit from being educated about their community,” Shamp said. “I think that the earlier those seeds of possibilities are planted, the better.”

Junior Achievement volunteers and friends will continue to impact the Ascension community when they host a Bowl-A-Thon at Premier Lanes in Gonzales on Thursday, March 12.

They hope to raise $9,000 to help support programs in Prairieville and Gonzales schools.