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For a Huntingtown Elementary School third grade class, the future was in their hands Monday afternoon.

Through an Academy of Finance mentoring program, third graders in all Calvert County elementary schools have been receiving lessons taught by high schoolers on communities, production, government, new businesses and money exchange.

“We learned that all our parents pay taxes for the people who work for us, like firefighters, the military and police officers,” said Huntingtown Elementary third grader Darrah Clime, whose class learned about voting Monday afternoon.

“They’re all really nice and funny,” Darrah, 8, said of the high schoolers.

Mark Wilding, the director of career and technology education for Calvert County Public Schools, explained that juniors and seniors in the Academy of Finance program in all four Calvert County high schools have been grouped into teams and “become experts in one of the five lessons.”

The lessons, which started in October and will last until Christmas, include how a community works; “Sweet ‘O’ Donuts” production; the role of government; starting a new business; and money exchange.

Wilding explained that the lessons are provided by the company Junior Achievement, which he said trained third grade and Academy of Finance teachers and the Academy of Finance students.

Wilding said each third grade has been paired up with a different high school and will receive each of the five lessons.

“Everybody’s loving it. We’ve heard from the third grade teachers how much they’re enjoying it and how impressed they are by the high schoolers’ demeanor,” Wilding said.

At Monday’s Huntingtown Elementary School lesson, the students were asked to vote for a mayoral candidate based on what he wanted to do with a vacant lot. One mayor wanted to turn it into an animal shelter; one wanted to turn it into a toy store; and one wanted to make it a skate park.

The students were put into smaller groups and asked to make pros and cons lists for each candidate’s plan.

Huntingtown High School students Kelsey Hernandez, Erica Shields and Harry Klausner delivered the lesson for that day.

“You’re going to see how your decisions affect the community as a whole,” Klausner, 17, told the students.

Klausner said he enjoyed seeing how excited the third graders were about the concept of voting and questions that could appear on a ballot. He said it was sometimes tough to make the lessons last an hour, which was the time alloted.

“By the end, I’m just asking, ‘Do you have any questions about us personally?’” Klausner said.

Hernandez said she viewed the lessons as a trip down memory lane.

“I like it a lot. It’s fun to come back to our old elementary schools and hang with the kids,” Hernandez, 17, said. “... They’re actually really smart; we just enforce it a little more.”

Huntingtown Elementary third grade teacher Diane Farrell said she liked seeing her students get more exposure to economics.

“I think it’s good for the kids to experience the students as teachers. I’ve been very impressed by their rapport,” Farrell said, adding that she was also pleasantly surprised by her students.

“I was surprised by their prior knowledge and the terms they seemed to know,” Farrell said.

Eight-year-old Lawson Vieley said she already knew who would get her vote.

“Romney,” Lawson said of the former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom Lawson called “nice and honest.”

Lawson said she felt similarly about her high school mentors.

“They’re really fun,” she said.

Her classmate, Aiden Murphy, 9, said working with the mentors made him excited for high school.

“I’ll be happy because I like to learn new stuff,” Aiden said.

ldukes@somdnews.com