Economics Class Goes Downtown
Byline: Tony Gonzalez
As the bustling energy of school began to wind down, one economics class from Lake Zurich High School experienced a dose of frenzied economic activity when visiting three downtown locations.
Fifteen students and two teachers, Chris Bennett and Bill Helzer, led the group through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Federal Reserve Bank, and the Chicago Board of Trade.
After arriving from the train by 9 a.m., the group crossed one street to enter the Mercantile Exchange. The economics students watched future commodities being traded in two busy "pits" and heard a formal presentation on the action they observed. Students came away flashing the signs of the buyers and sellers, with pointing fingers and enthusiastic gestures.
Senior Vlad Kroshinsky felt the exchange operated with its own unique language, described as "two weeks of intensive hand training."
The Federal Reserve Bank proved to be the most educational and interesting stop of the day. Of all the locations, it was most thorough in security measures, giving a hard time to junior Derek Blanchard for his steel-toe boots.
"He's not one of my brightest students," joked Bennett as the detector continued to buzz.
While wandering through the public displays, students learned about the origins of U.S. currency, the development of the $10,000 bill and the measures taken by and against counterfeiters.
The Federal Reserve Bank also offered a presentation in which the "millions, billions, and trillions" were discussed by speaker Jerry Nelson. As a man of numbers, Nelson rattled off many statistics, including the number of bills brought to the bank each day, the $14 billion held at all times in the vaults, and random facts about how many gold bars, checks, and ATM machines are in the Chicago district of the Federal Reserve system. …