Above: Fifth-grade students at Dumas Intermediate School finished a six-week course that taught them how to keep a budget.

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It’s always a joke that if you don’t understand how to use your cell phone or computer, ask one of your kids. Now, through a project at Dumas Intermediate School, some kids will be able to balance their parents’ checkbooks while teaching them how to use a laptop.

Fifth-grade teachers Kasinda Conde and Kelli Simmons just finished a six-week project that taught math and life skills by guiding them through the intricacies of balancing a budget. Each Monday, the students received a “paycheck”, and they had to budget expenses exactly as their parents do — paying utilities, buying groceries and making the mortgage payment. While doing it, they learned how to add and subtract decimals and became acquainted with the reality of how quickly money can fly out of a bank account.

The project began with 125 students, and 21 of them were recognized Wednesday for finishing it with balanced budgets. Cesar Conde from First National Bank in Dumas was at the school to give each of the winners a letter from the bank and a certificate. The bank also bought gifts for the winning students, and it will host a pizza party for them at a later date.

One of the students, Emily Playo, said math is her favorite subject, so the project wasn’t too difficult for her, but Gunner Willis thought it was challenging.

“We had to do a lot of adding, subtracting and keeping balances,” he said. “When I told my mom what we were doing, she said, ‘That’s what I’m doing!’”

Other students said the project will help them manage their finances when they’re adults, and Conde and Simmons plan on doing the project a couple more times.

“This was a trial run,” Conde said. “We didn’t have a curriculum, so we tweaked it as we went along, but it turned out well.”

For Playo, it might have given her some insight for a possible career.

“After doing this, I’m thinking I’d like to be a banker,” she said.

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Twenty-one fifth-graders received certificates Wednesday for successfully finishing a project that taught them how to budget finances.