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News Archives 2013-14

Academy of Finance juniors and seniors enjoyed a morning of networking and team building last month with their advisory board members and fellow students. Each advisory board member sat with 8-10 students while they shared their career and business experience, answered students’ questions, and enjoyed a light breakfast prepared by students in the Career Readiness Program and by Chef Andy and his staff in the high school cafeteria.

The AOF students were eager to hear what each board member enjoys about his/her job, what a typical day at work is like, where they went to college, the skills needed to be successful in the workplace, and even how it feels to wear business attire all day! The board members also asked students to share their interests and future goals, as well as what school subjects they like.

Each group was then challenged with building the tallest Lego structure that could stand on its own. They all worked feverishly to accomplish the task, making sure all team members were involved. The winning team’s tower came in at over 30 inches in height! The time together ended with three AOF seniors sharing highlights of their internship experiences over the summer. Courtney Forrest spoke of his time at the county clerk’s office, Yahaira Santiago-Morales shared what it was like to intern at The Center for Discovery, and Jennifer Avila explained what her role was at Sullivan Renaissance.

  • Photo 1: Laura Quigley, AOF Advisory Board Vice-President, Director of Workforce Development, speaks with the students.
  • Photo 2:  AOF advisory board member Chris Schmidt of Schmidt’s Wholesale shares his experiences with students.
  • Photo 3: Advisory board member Joan Farrow, former Chairman of the Board of Catskill Hudson Bank , engages students in conversation.
  • Photo 4: AOF student CJ Forrest speaks about his summer internship experience.
  • Photo 5: Students and  board members participate in teambuilding activties.

guest speaker shares experiences from abroad

AOF advisory board member Jeremy Gorelick visited with many of the AOF juniors earlier this month to give the students insight into a career that takes him to a part of the world they may have only read about in history books: Dakar, Senegal in West Africa. Through his detailed accounts of trips to the third world nation, Mr. Gorelick spoke of the work he has done on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to assist the city of Dakar in raising money through the sale of long-term bonds. The funds will be used to construct buildings to house new businesses in the city.

The pictures Mr. Gorelick shared with the students showed a city with a sea of people, with few paved roads, trying to buy necessities from what appeared to be street vendors. “If you need to buy socks, you keep walking until you find someone selling socks. And those socks may not be new, so you use a lot of bleach before you wear them.”

Since Mr. Gorelick’s work with the city of Dakar is coming to a close now that the bond offering is almost complete, the students asked Mr. Gorelick what project he will work on next. He said he did not know at this point, but he does know there are many more waiting in line. The students look forward to hearing about where Mr. Gorelick’s work will take him next.

ACADEMY OF FINANCE Class of 2013-14

academy of finance students gain hand-on work experience

According to the National Academy Foundation, which oversees the Academy of Finance, the internship experience gives students a chance to gain real world, hands-on experience, make lasting professional connections, and discover more about their interests...The business partners who hire NAF academy students as interns benefit from the efforts of enthusiastic, prepared, and highly conscientious workers. NAF academy internships hone workplace skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, decorum, conflict resolution, time management, ingenuity, problem-solving, and a solid understanding of the importance of written and oral communication.

One of the benefits of the program is monitoring of student performance by an AOF teacher. The educator checks in with the employer as well as the student throughout the length of the internship to provide guidance and support whenever needed. During the school year, students prepared for their work experience by learning proper work place etiquette. In addition, each academy junior prepared a budget in June to plan for saving and spending wisely. They were responsible for keeping a log of their earnings and when they returned to school this month, they compared their budget with their log to determine any adjustments that should be made for the future. Completing an internship manual detailing what they learned about the work environment of their internship site is required for students to receive school credit for their experience. It includes information regarding policies and procedures at the work place, and requires students to read relevant articles from professional journals or magazines. The internship ends with a written evaluation prepared by the supervisor, who reviews the results with the student so they can receive feedback about their performance and learn how to improve for future work sites.

Organizations that provided internships for Academy of Finance students this summer include Sullivan Renaissance, Youth Economic Group, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Sullivan County Clerk’s Office, Sullivan County Office of Management and Budget, County Fountain Supplies, Inc., and The Center for Discovery. In addition, Boreal Water Collection, Inc., The Family Drug Store, and The Fat Lady Café collaborated with the academy teacher to make the work experience even deeper and more meaningful for the AOF students they had in their employment before the start of the summer.

News Archives 2011-12
Academy of Finance offering free tax preparation

AOF students works on taxesThe Monticello High School Academy of Finance (AOF) is offering a free tax preparation service for any tax return that has a gross income of $50,000 or less in 2011. This service is available from February 15 through April 4 at Monticello High School, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:15-4:30 p.m. Students will also be providing this service on Saturday, February 25 and Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This service is by appointment only. For more information, call AOF director Wendy Levinson at 794-8840, ext. 10848.

2012 is the fifth year the AOF has provided this service. In 2011, students prepared approximately 100 tax returns. This experience provides the students with the opportunity to use their knowledge in a real life situation and provides them with an experience that connects them with the adult community of our district.

AOF student works on taxesIt is a confidence builder for the AOF students as they move toward being independent adults. The students assume the challenge and push themselves beyond their comfort zones. It also shows them the value of socially responsible behavior because their skills and knowledge are being used to assist members of the community in which they live.

Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Monticello High School Academy of Finance students get certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to prepare income taxes. Students become certified by taking an on-line IRS exam. The AOF Financial Decision Making classes are being prepared for the exam by business teacher Susan Bahrenburg, who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Students who pass the exam receive a certificate indicating their capacity to perform the service.

AOF student works on taxesThere is a quality review process where all returns are double checked before submission. In addition to learning about tax preparation, the students in Wendy Levinson’s AOF communications class develop marketing materials and all of the necessary communication to inform the school community of the service and our hours of operation. Eric Shewmaker, a Monticello High School math teacher, also takes part in assisting the students as they prepare the tax returns for the public.

This is an example of team effort where Academy of Finance teachers Wendy Levinson and Susan Bahrenburg and math teacher Eric Shewmaker support the students as they provide this service. The students are able to take part in and observe a coordinated effort, which results in providing a service for our community.

Academy of Finance students attend Governor's State of the State addressAOF students at the Governor's State of the State Address
World-renowned speaker visits Academy of Finance students

On November 30, Dr. Peter Tarlow, a nationwide expert hired by Sullivan Renaissance to assist in enhancing Sullivan County, spoke to members of the Academy of Finance. Dr. Tarlow is a world-renowned speaker who lectures on current and future trends in the tourism industry, rural tourism, economic development, and issues of crime and terrorism. MORE

AOF seniors  AOF seniors

Top Photos: Academy of Finance Class of 2012

AOF juniors  AOF juniors

Top Photos: Academy of Finance Class of 2013

Operation Daffodil designed to enhance the beauty of Broadway

Seniors in the Monticello High School Academy of Finance (AOF) dedicated their time and labor to help make the "Operation Daffodil" community service project a success.

During a mid-October weekend the students, along with AOF director Wendy Levinson (pictured left) worked on Broadway as a part of the Sullivan Renaissance project designed to beautify the Village of Monticello. The group hopes to see thousands of daffodils bloom in the spring of 2012.

AOF students participate in Operation Daffodil

Students learn art of business lunch: Basic etiquette emphasized for job interviews - story by Victor Whitman

October 13, 2011 - Times Herald-Record - Monticello finance academy students got a lesson in table etiquette at SUNY Sullivan. According to the students, their teachers and SUNY Sullivan staff, the country's future business leaders are lacking in a skill that is critical for getting jobs and doing deals, but is rarely taught. That is, getting through a standard business lunch. FULL STORY

Internships give students hands-on experience at work

AOF intern Maghan McCormackAs part of the requirement of the Academy of Finance and to get a real life taste of what it is like in the working world, AOF students participate in an internship at a local company or organization.

"This type of experience is the perfect supplement to what the students learn in class," said AOF Director Wendy Levinson. "This is the real thing."

AOF intern Rahsheeda McRaeTwo students who recently interned were Maghan McCormack who spent time working at the Sullivan Renaissance offices in Liberty and Rahsheeda McRae who interned at the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello.

Both students found their experiences to be invaluable to their understanding of the world of work. For more information about becoming an internship partner with the Academy of Finance, please call Ms. Levinson at 794-8840, ext. 10848.

Right photo: AOF intern Maghan McCormack works with her internship supervisor Denise Frangipane at the Sullivan Renaissance offices.

Left photo: AOF intern Rahsheeda McRae worked at the County Manager's office at the Sullivan County Government Center as part of her internship.

Historian John ConwayJohn Conway, Sullivan County Historian speaks to AOF Economics Class

John Conway, the Sullivan County Historian spoke to the AOF Economics class about Sullivan County’s rich history as it pertains to business and industry. Mr. Conway is the author of Sullivan County, A Bicentennial History in Images.

He spoke of Timber, Tanning and Tourism, the three industries that were important aspects of Sullivan County’s economic history. John Conway shared his view of Sullivan County being a very special place and a much-celebrated region. He spoke of the positive aspects of our community and that there is hope for an economic resurgence.

Story by David Osrow.

2010-11 Archives

Monticello’s Academy of Finance students attend gala benefit

On February 25, Monticello High School Academy of Finance (AOF) Director Wendy Levinson and five AOF seniors attended the National Academy Foundation (NAF) 2009 Gala Benefit at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

AOF students at Gala BenefitAs part of NAF’s partnership between top business leaders and teachers who prepare students for professional careers, the group from Monticello was invited to attend a free concert performance at Carnegie Hall that featured the Vienna Philharmonic, the world-renowned pianist Lang Lang and the conductor Zubin Mehta.

“It was a fantastic networking experience for the students, as they got to mingle with corporate CEO's and executives,” said Levinson. “This opportunity helped them push beyond their comfort zones and challenged the students to network with the big-leaguers. I am very proud how well they handled themselves.”

"It was a great experience that I will remember for the rest of my life," said AOF senior Shaun Wundrack. "It was beneficial because it gave me the opportunity to network on a more mature level. I would like to do it again!"

The Academy of Finance is part of Monticello High School’s Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century Academy. Within the school’s academy structure, beginning in tenth grade, students get to choose their course of study. The other academies available are the Fine Arts Academy and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy.

Photo: From left, Monticello High School students Sabrina Santos, Kelly Owens, Tanner Wuerthner, Shaun Wundrack and Tyler Wuerthner with Xerox Corporation President Ursula Burns and AOF Director Wendy Levinson (right).

AOF students offered free tax service

Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, a group of Academy of Finance students were certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to prepare taxes. They offered the free service till April 2 to Joint filers whose gross income is $42,000 or less and to Single filers with a gross income of $40,000 or less. For more information about the program, please call 845-794-8840, ext. 10848. Click here to read the story, "IRS Certifies Students" by Jeanne Sager, courtesy the Sullivan County Democrat.

2009-10 Archives

Many lessons to be learned at historical presidential inauguration

AOF students watch Presidential InaugurationOn Tuesday, Jan. 20, all the schools in the Monticello district took some time to celebrate the inauguration of the new President of the United States, Barack Obama. Each school had access to the televised event and used this historic day as a learning opportunity.

At Chase Elementary School, students decorated the lobby entrance, while at Rutherford, some classes celebrated with their own inaugural ball. RJK Middle School students gathered in classrooms to watch and discuss the swearing-in ceremony and what this moment meant to them personally. At the Cooke School, students gathered in the cafeteria and in classrooms to watch the event together, while teachers explained the different aspects of the ceremony.

Duggan Elementary School fifth-graders along with 60 Monticello High School Academy of Finance students got to attend a special big-screen presentation of the inauguration as part of the kick-off of the 2009 Education Program by the Museum of Bethel Woods at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. In addition to watching the event, the students listened to a lecture on the historical significance of the election.

Monticello High School AOF senior, Ebony Andrews, said "Watching the whole election and the inauguration proved that the younger people wanted change and are able to get together and make the change happen. I think that it is good that people are expanding their minds and accepting difference."

Assistant professor of American History at SCCC, Amy Colon, gave a presentation about the famous inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and showed the connection between the social and political changes made possible by the struggles of the 1960's.

AOF students mingle with the SC Partnership

AOF at Sullivan County PartnershipOn October 15 and 16, members of the Academy of Finance helped the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development (a non-profit organization that helps businesses in Sullivan County relocate and expand their operation, with the goal of boosting the county’s battered economy) during their annual dinner which honors Sullivan County business leaders and policy makers, who help the Partnership achieve their goals. The dinner, which was held at the beautiful Events Gallery at Bethel Woods, allowed business owners (large and small) a chance to network with one another, as well as special guests including Senator John Bonacic. Speakers at the dinner included Michael Skrebutenas, assistant secretary of state for economic development for New York State, as well as Tim McCausland, CEO and President of the Partnership, who was in charge of the event. Speakers introduced new local businesses, such as the Monticello Motor Club (who had a Ferrari and a Ford GT on display outside the Events Gallery) and spoke of the current economic crisis, on both a local and national level. They stressed the importance of involvement by local businesses in improving the economic situation, and they looked at a promising future for the County, led by the re-opening of the Villa Roma, another successful season at Bethel Woods, and the construction of “Entertainment City” on the grounds of the old Concord hotel.

Student volunteers from the Academy of Finance began helping out on the evening of October 15th, the night before the dinner. They helped set up the lobby and the events room for the dinner. Students came again the next afternoon, helping with the final preparations. During the dinner that night, students were in charge of registration and handing out nametags to guests, in addition to operating the coat check. Later that evening, the students were able to sit down and listen to speeches and awards presentations (one of the business leaders being honored was Zane Morganstein, a member of the Academy of Finance’s board of trustees).

Once the speeches ended, the student volunteers were given an opportunity to meet local business leaders and even some politicians. At the closing of the ceremony, McCausland thanked the Academy of Finance for their help, and students were in turn grateful for a chance to learn about the economic situation in their community, and meet the business leaders who are trying to improve it.

Story by Monticello High School Academy of Finance students Oded Naiman and Ebony Andrews.

Students excel at Financial Literacy Challenge

AOF studentsDuring October, the AOF students took the Financial Literacy Challenge given by the US Dept. of the Treasury.

The challenge was taken by more than 75,000 high school students with the following Monticello students scoring in the top 25th percentile: Marisela Acevedo, Ebony Andrews, Ashia Clark, Danny Gilbert, Meghan Hughes, Tyler Hutchens, Bryan Kimmons, Hannah McCallion, Kelly Owens, Vrundan K. Patel, Scott Sanford, Sabrina Santos, Danielle Schnitzer, Amanda Tejada, Stacey Trinidad and Shaun Wundrack. Dan Gilbert scored in the top one percentile.

With the state of today's economy, more than ever, students realize the significance of focusing on financial education during their high school years.