Students ‘bank’ on their futures

Published 12:03 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Cathedral sixth-grade students hold $1 bills after the grand opening of Concordia Bank and Trust Company’s student bank at Cathedral Elementary Wednesday afternoon. The bank will allow students to make deposits into a savings account.

NATCHEZ — Aside from ruling elementary school, sixth graders in the Miss-Lou also get a chance to act grown up by graduating their savings accounts from a pickle jar stowed on a closet shelf to their very own bank branch.

While 11- and 12-year olds might not have to worry about paying a mortgage, Concordia Bank’s “Banking at School” program instills in students at a young age important lessons about personal finance, their teacher Jamie Gibson said.

Cathedral sixth graders enjoyed a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday for their own licensed bank branch called “Green Wave Greens.”

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Once a month, students can make deposits at school of 50 cents or more into their accounts, Concordia Bank customer service representative Sue Feemster said.

She said four of their fellow classmates will be nominated by their teacher to be class tellers and use their math skills to balance the accounts, which Concordia Bank representatives will double-check and deposit at the main branch.

The sixth graders listed a variety of things on which they would spend their saved-up cash.

“I’ll get a dog at the humane society,” Ada Morgan said.

“A new knife,” said Owen Rice, who sported a Boy Scout uniform.

“I’ll just save up money for a rainy day when something new comes out, maybe like an iPhone 5 or 6,” Logan Taylor said.

Concordia Bank’s Banking at School Program, which has existed in the area since 1995, also includes Vidalia and Ferriday junior high, Ridgecrest and Monterey schools in Concordia Parish.

In addition to Cathedral, participants on the other side of the bridge include Adams County Christian, Trinity Episcopal, Morgantown Elementary, Centreville, Wilkinson County Christian and William Winans Middle schools.

Many of the Cathedral students said they will earn the money to deposit into their savings accounts from allowance or by performing chores around the house.

Taylor said he earns allowance by doing simple things like taking care of the dogs and cleaning his room and others.

“And the dishes,” Taylor said, “which is horrible.”

Hannah Jenkins said she has to earn her money at home.

“My dad says allowance is being able to live under his roof,” Jenkins said.

But her parents and brother do employ her for certain tasks, like washing her dad’s car or hanging up her brother’s clothes.

“And my birthday is going to be a big contributor (to her savings account),” Jenkins said. “And Christmas.”

For now, Jenkins stores her money in a pickle jar with a hole cut out of the lid.

Annie Russ keeps hers in a secret place hidden in her room, she said.

Feemster said the students cannot withdraw money from their savings accounts at school, but they can make withdrawal at any Concordia Bank branch with parental consent.

“At this age, they’re getting to the point when they want to be more mature — they’re the oldest in elementary,” Gibson said.

“It prepares them, (and) it’s a hands-on learning experience.”

And for an extra incentive, if at least 14 of the 43 sixth graders at Cathedral make deposits each month, Concordia Bank representative Stephen Edwards said the bank will throw the class a pizza party.