May 12, 2005 — The story was simple. "How the Economy Affects my Life" by 10-year-old Nisha Hodge was about a woman named Salina, a St. Thomian who traveled the world. When Salina went to Spain with $600 in her pocket, she got a big lesson in exchange rates.
"She went to a store in Spain and bought items," said Nisha. "When Salina gave the clerk her money, the clerk said they didn't take dollars at the store. Salina left her items at the store and set off to find a bank to exchange her currency."
According to Nisha, Salina was surprised at what the bank teller gave her. "She thought only the color of the money would change, but the teller gave her 468 pesetas Salina was surprised she got back less."
"Not all countries use U.S. dollars," said Nisha. "Their exchange is lower or higher. You get more or less money." Nisha wrote her story for the annual Social Studies Fair to demonstrate her knowledge of this year's theme, "How Economics Affects My Life."
"They're learning about money from around the world through geography. They find the country, the money, and do the conversions. We want them to know how to do it," said Annie Smith, St. Thomas-St. John District social studies coordinator.
The fair was held Wednesday at Emancipation Garden. Students demonstrated their knowledge of world currency through various displays of monies from around the world. Students identified the countries represented in their displays, and frantic conversions were made as pencil was put to paper, or calculator buttons pushed rapidly; kroners to dollars, dollars to pounds, pounds to euros.
Nisha and her classmates created a PowerPoint presentation, showing that money has been counted in pounds in England, kroners in Denmark, francs in France, pesetas in Spain, and guildes in Poland. However, now Holland, Denmark, France and Spain all use the euro.
"When they travel from place to place they don't have to exchange their money," Nisha said.
In addition to world economics, culture was celebrated as well. Students from E. Benjamin Oliver School danced the merengue, and traditional island dances were also performed.
Another highlight of the fair was the presentation of the Most Dedicated Parent of the Year. Arnel Benjamin, mother of four daughters and a school volunteer, received the award.
"It is a distinct privilege for the district to recognize Mrs. Benjamin as a dedicated public school parent and community activist," Smith said. "If the adage, it takes a village to raise a child is indeed a true statement, Mrs. Benjamin is our honorary villager."
"It was a surprise. I didn't expect it. When they gave me the letter I was shocked. I have always been honored, but never like this," said Benjamin.
The Social Studies Fair lasted from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Participating schools included Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean High Schools, Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and Bertha C. Boschulte Middle Schools, Ulla Muller, Michael Kirwan, Peace Corps and E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary Schools, as well Sts. Peter and Paul and the Prophecy School.
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