Students learn valuable lessons from Concordia Bank

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2006

VIDALIA, La. &045; Sixth-graders at Vidalia Junior High School crowded around desks, studying forms and talking with one another about their banking tasks.

With green cards to record their past savings and deposit slips to record the dollar, five dollars or so they had brought to school on Thursday, the eager children showed enthusiasm for the skills they were learning.

Anita Robinson called out to the 33 students who voluntarily were taking part in a program provided by Concordia Bank & Trust Co. &uot;Write your name here,&uot; she said, holding up a sample slip. &uot;Be sure to put down how much you’re depositing. And put it on your green card.&uot;

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On one side of the room, four students in identical dark blue T-shirts, acted as tellers. They took the deposits, the cards and, at the end of the session, used calculators to balance money against deposit slips.

&uot;Thanks. Have a good day,&uot; the student tellers said to each one making a deposit.

Robinson has worked in Concordia’s Bank at School program for 10 years. &uot;We’re teaching the tellers more than just how to balance at the end of the day,&uot; she said. &uot;We’re teaching them about privacy, that they can’t talk to others about any individual accounts.&uot;

The program exists in 13 schools in the parish and two counties, with the bank taking the program into a school once a month.

&uot;We’re ready to count money,&uot; Robinson called out to the tellers. The calculating began. One dollar short, the tellers watched intently as Robinson helped out, her fingers flying over the calculator and then through the one-dollar-bills.

&uot;Here’s the dollar you missed,&uot; she said, assuring them that the mistake was easily found on a second try.

President and CEO of Concordia Bank Patrick Biglane said the Bank in School program is one started by Mary Landrieu, then treasurer of the state of Louisiana and now a U.S. senator.

In the program, Concordia as host bank in the area has students open a new bank. &uot;We get the charter,&uot; he said. &uot;They do ribbon cutting and everything.&uot;

When the bank built branches in Natchez and Woodville, it made sense to take the program into those areas, Biglane said.

Sherry Jamison watched her daughter benefit from the program in the two years since she participated at Morgantown Elementary School as a sixth-grader. &uot;She loves having her own little savings account,&uot; Jamison said of her daughter, Christina Jamison, now an eighth-grader at Natchez Middle School.

Sherry Jamison said the program has taught her daughter how to save. &uot;And she has learned the responsibility of managing money. That’s good for her as she gets ready for college four years from now.&uot;

Biglane said the bank has opened about 3,000 student accounts. &uot;But it’s not for the money but for the education of the kids,&uot; he said. &uot;We train them and teach them about confidentiality and trust.&uot;

The bank continues the school connection into high school by going to schools to teach students about checking accounts and responsible use of credit cards.

School programs are an expense to the bank, Biglane said. &uot;But our board feels it’s a commitment to our youth. It’s been fun and it’s worthwhile.&uot;