Knowledge and Insights

Central NJ High Schools Win Big At Regional Money$peak Competition

June 2016

Central NJ High Schools at Money$peak

Princeton, NJ – The expanded second annual Money$peak competition, presented by the Mercadien Foundation and Rider University, with participating student teams from Bordentown, Hillsborough, Hopewell Valley, Lawrence, Steinert, and West Windsor Plainsboro North high schools, was held before a crowd of supporters on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.  To get to this final regional personal finance competition, held at Rider University, these six teams first competed and won in their district high schools.  In total, nearly 60 teams representing over 200 students vied this spring to make it to the finals.

The winning Money$peak teams were awarded cash prizes and school grants for personal finance education. Sponsors, including The Mercadien Group, Rider University, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, TD Charitable Foundation, PSEG Foundation, Fulton Bank and Random Thought Studio, made this experience for central New Jersey high school students possible through their support.

The challenge to the students: Create a short, innovative presentation on one of several specific personal finance topics and present it to a panel of high-profile judges from the finance profession. Teams of two-to-four students used important information learned in the classroom to create presentations ranging from animated videos to skits and songs to creatively express their personal finance lessons to judges and audience members on stage at Rider’s Bart Luedeke Center Theater.

Five expert judges assessed teams on content, clarity, creativity, and performance. The judging panel included Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Business Advocate, Mercer County Office of Economic Development and Sustainability; Conrad Druker, Managing Director, the Mercadien Group; Tina Middleton, Vice President, Fulton Bank of New Jersey; Patricia Hartpence, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Giving, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group; and Joe Tredinnick, Regional Vice President, TD Bank.

Following presentations and scoring, trophies and awards were presented to the top five teams:

Money$peak Competition winning team, #Nachoidentity, from Hopewell Valley Central High School. From left to right: Students: Catherine Zhang and Vicki Xie and teacher/advisor, Ms. Suzanne Brown.

  • First Place: “#Nachoidentity,” presenting on identity theft, from Hopewell Valley Central High School, advised by teacher Suzanne Brown. Team members: Vicki Xie and Catherine Zhang. $1,500 team award, $1,000 school grant for personal finance education.
  • Second Place: “Bordentown FBLA,” presenting on insurance, from Bordentown Regional High School, advised by teacher Kara Lynch. Team members: Haasya Kanamarlapudi, Julia Mollin, and Ashling Wahner. $1,000 team award, $750 school grant for personal finance education.
  • Third Place: “The Spartans,” presenting on fraud, from Steinert High School, advised by teachers Kyle Flanagan and Nick Hover. Team members: Stefano Antanellos, Pat Carr, Jeremy Conover, and Jay Shaw. $500 team award, $500 school grant for personal finance education.
  • Honorable Mention: “Left for Theft,” presenting on identity theft, from West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, advised by teacher Albert Paulsson. Team members: Dan Grueneberg, Humayd Humayun, Usamah Kazi, and Shivam Raval. $250 team award, $250 school grant for personal finance education.
  • Honorable Mention: “Team Tri-15,” presenting on identity theft, from Hillsborough High School, advised by teachers Kim Losch. Team members: Allison O’Neill, Jenna Pudimott, and Amy Suraci. $250 team award, $250 school grant for personal finance education.

The Central New Jersey high school students that participated in this year’s Money$peak Competition

“By making a half-year course in personal finance a high school graduation requirement for students graduating after 2013, the New Jersey Department of Education took a big step forward. From this starting point, the Mercadien Foundation seeks to sustain students’ forward momentum to insure every student has a solid understanding of the basics of personal finance when they leave high school and enter their next stage of life. With Money$peak, students must understand their topic area before presenting it. With greater, long-lasting understanding, we’re helping to build a generation of young adults who take charge of their financial future and excel in their chosen fields,” says Christopher Seiz, Executive Director of the Mercadien Foundation.

Suzanne Brown, teacher at Hopewell Valley Central High School says, “Mercadien Foundation and the amazing sponsors have created an impressive event with the Money$peak program that allows students to apply the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout the year. It’s special because it requires them to engage at a higher level to create powerful messages about personal finance issues to present to others. Money$peak is the perfect opportunity to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones to master “life skills” such as time management, doing thorough research, being concise, knowing your target audience, maintaining confidence, and honing critical presentation skills. I couldn’t be more proud of Catherine and Vicki’s efforts displayed onstage! Winning first place drove home the point that what they did here accomplished the goals of the Foundation and the sponsors too. Money$peak is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Within the next few weeks, student presentations will be available on the Money$peak website, , for use by educators as they teach these areas of personal finance, bridging the gaps in financial education and creating a central clearinghouse for education material distribution.

The Mercadien Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to create philanthropic and innovative programs to benefit the Mercer County community and New Jersey.

The Mercadien Group is a family of companies created to serve the diverse and sophisticated needs of clients in a capacity far greater than any single organization can offer. The group provides accounting, auditing, tax planning and compliance, management consulting, technology and wealth management services.

Rider University, founded in 1865, is a comprehensive, private, coeducational university located in Lawrenceville and Princeton, New Jersey. With approximately 5,500 students studying at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of business, education, liberal arts and sciences, music and the fine and performing arts, Rider’s academic experience offers a personal approach that is celebrated for educating talented students for citizenship, life and career success. More information can be found at