May 21, 2011 in Washington Voices

Pig hunt at Pines lesson in finance

By The Spokesman-Review
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Josh Allison, relationship development manager for Horizon Credit Union, shows “Piggy H.” to North Pines students. Students answer clues and complete worksheets to find ithe treasure it holds: $250.
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The idea of a $250 prize has convinced students at North Pines Middle School in the Central Valley School District to learn about personal finance.

The Piggy Treasure Hunt kicked off Monday, as students learned there are clues hidden throughout the campus. If the students find a clue, they take it to a teacher who will give them a worksheet to complete before they can move on to the next clue. They have a checklist to make sure they are getting the worksheets and clues in the correct order so no one can find the pig without doing the work.

The clues lead them to a blue piggy bank – named Piggy H. – hidden somewhere on school grounds. It could be inside or outside, anywhere at North Pines. Finding the pig gets the student a $250 gift card and $250 to donate to one of three charities.

“He’s already out there,” said Principal Gordon Grassi. “He’s pretty well hidden.”

The worksheets are from the PBS show “Biz Kids,” teaching students about personal finance. There are some about identity theft and setting up a budget.

This is a pilot program from Horizon Credit Union. Josh Allison, relationship development manager, said donating to a charity shows the kids the value of giving back to the community. They have a choice of Spokane Valley Partners, Credit Union for Kids Children’s Miracle Network or Junior Achievement.

Allison added that the program is also a great way for the younger students to get to know the teachers they will have in the next couple of years. Since each clue is assigned to a specific teacher, students must come to the teacher’s classroom to get the next worksheet.

“The person that finds the pig will have worked hard,” Grassi said.

Hunting for Piggy H. is completely optional and it must be done on the students’ own time. They can’t do it during lunch or during passing periods, just before or after school.

As of Monday afternoon, 157 students had already found the first clue. There was also a group of about 30 students who have found all the clues but still need to complete their worksheets before they can try to find Piggy.

Many of the students have decided to work together. If they do, each student on a team must complete the work. Grassi warned them to be careful what they say about the project, since someone might overhear the conversation and use it to their advantage.

One student said she would use her winnings to go to Camp Spalding. One said she wanted to buy some books and tithe some of the money to her church. One wanted to go shopping.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars for a middle school student is a pretty big deal,” Grassi said.

This first treasure hunt is based off of the television show “The Amazing Race,” but Grassi imagines future treasure hunts that are based on “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

But most importantly, Grassi said, the activity is a way to educate the students while they are having fun.

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