On April 18 and 19 the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service partnered with Paris High School staff and community members to conduct the Ready, Set, Graduate program.

Ready, Set, Graduate is a financial management program that teaches high school seniors skills in budgeting, banking and the wise use of credit.

On the first day of RSG, seniors participated in educational classes taught by, Donna Cunningham, Vice-President and Branch Manager at Farm Credit Services, Clark Parker, Commercial Lender at Arvest Bank and Charla Hammonds, County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences. Students learned how to write checks, balance a checkbook and create a budget based on a prospective salary for their chosen career.

On the second day, students had the opportunity to apply these skills during the Mall of Life simulation. Stations were set up in the gym and manned by area businesses. At each station students made decisions similar to those adults make each month.

Students had to buy or rent a home, purchase a car, insurance, utilities and other common expenses, all while staying within their proposed monthly budget. Students also had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews conducted by community members and business owners. During interviews, students were evaluated on their professionalism, dress and resume. Students were then informed as to whether or not the company would have hired them based on this evaluation.

Several businesses and organizations participated in the event. They were John Whitman and Roy Hester-Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative; Tonya Baumgartner-Paris Area Chamber of Commerce; Britt Bauer-Farm Bureau Insurance; Dustin Schluterman-Paris Ford; Brad and Stephanie Simon-Mosquito Joes; Megan Orr-Mercy; Beth Ullrich, Harlan Brewton and Rick Nehus.