Courtesy Erika Cowger, Lyon County School District
Economics, finance, technology, creativity, teamwork, problem-solving, writing, speaking, debate, and design… This only begins to explain the plethora of activities Lyon County School District’s (LCSD) economic students have been exploring in the semester leading up to and on the day of the International Economic Summit in LCSD. Students from all Lyon County high schools will be representing countries from around the world and competing in a day-long International Economic Summit starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 23 at Silver Stage High School.
The Summit, originated by a university, has gained national recognition as one of the most effective educational programs available anywhere for teaching core, transferable career skills in economics, finance, and even technology. Students gain a multicultural understanding of how the world works and what they can do to prepare through this world meeting and trade simulation with the ultimate goal of raising the standard of living for their country.
The Summit has been around Lyon County School District since 2009. It began in Damon Etter’s classroom at Dayton High School – Etter was an economics teacher for DHS prior to assuming other leadership roles in LCSD. Stephanie Fitch, the current economics teacher at DHS, continued the tradition of The Summit with her Economics classes, and eventually, the event has become a biannual district-wide tradition. The once small classroom project has become a district-wide event and will only continue to grow as other high schools and collaborators at the state level look to expand the summit into a larger regional and/or state event.
The Summit was originally introduced into LCSD classrooms because Etter believed International Economics was a difficult subject to teach – he felt there was a disconnect without a real-world application. Patrick Billings, teacher at Silver Stage High School, adds, “It is hard for many students to see the connections and the worldwide implications. Many have never left northern Nevada and have no prior knowledge of the greater geography of the world.” He continues, “The day of the summit is always a huge success and it is awesome to see the engagement by students.” Etter believes it is a “dream come true” to see The Summit become a district-wide event because he believes it truly benefits students and their understanding of the topics that an Economics class addresses.
Since expanding from a classroom summit at DHS to a Disitrict-wide summit, LCSD has enjoyed the participation and support from the University of Nevada, Reno and other local businesses and partners who have participated in The Summit as Team USA and other volunteer roles.
Stephanie Fitch, current Economics teacher at DHS states, “I love that Summit has become a district event. This was Damon Etter’s vision when he brought the Economic Summit to LCSD. I am pleased I was able to keep the vision going until the rest of the district came on board. I’m very grateful to the LCSD leadership, both at District Office and the School Board, for supporting Economics as a separate class and for supporting the Summit.”
The students, although likely exhausted after a day of solving the world’s problems, thoroughly appreciate that they can see a semester’s worth of hard work come together. Teachers and students alike agree that the Summit is a fun and challenging project where student teams represent the countries of the world. They compete to raise the standard of living of their assigned country by applying their knowledge and skills in problem-solving, international trade, finance, banking, debate, video production and even designing creative costumes and country displays. For the past few years, students have had the option of dressing in a costume representative of their country or professional dress. Since The Summit is usually an event with juniors in high school, this new opportunity to dress professionally allows them to practice preparing for real-world professional self-presentation.
Billings adds that “The day of The Summit provides a lot of value and soft skills with negotiating and talking to others, critical thinking skills, public speaking, etc.” Additionally, The Summit is an all-encompassing event where students are able to step into the shoes of those that reside in their chosen country and learn how they live, learn about their successes and struggles, and use this information to create a global proposal. Students are able to see the work of students throughout the district and get a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a global leader. Also, to be a successful team at The Summit, the students must be willing to collaborate, communicate and problem-solve with not only their team, but all teams participating. The Summit is a place where students can unleash their creative minds and show a variety of strengths. The Summit, in its entirety, is a tremendous experience where students are learning AND having fun.
This year’s summit is being led by Patrick Whitehead, teacher at Fernley High School. Whitehead is an integral part of hosting the LCSD International Economic Summit in addition to all of the Economics teachers of the participating high schools and all of the community volunteers that dedicate their day to providing a successful summit. Scorekeepers and volunteers are made up of LCSD leadership personnel, LCSD Board members, local community leaders, and a handful of outstanding volunteers.
Video of previous Economic Summits is available here.