Daily Town Talk
By: Karina Vailes
September 13, 2010
Peabody Magnet High School student Keverick Tanner, 17, looked pleased after he realized he successfully helped a customer open his first savings account.
"It felt pretty good," Keverick said with a smile as he completed his first day as a teller at a Pelican State Credit Union branch, located in his school.
For Keverick, a senior at the school, it is also his first job ever. But Keverick was not the only one excited about a day of "firsts."
On Wednesday, Peabody Magnet High School became the first school in the Rapides Parish School District to open a financial institution to serve and educate students.
"The underlying factor of all this is financial literacy, it's education, it's giving back to the community, it's making sure that all these kids have an opportunity to get a grip on life before it gets a hold of them," Pelican State Credit Union CEO Jeffrey K. Conrad said during Wednesday's grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration at the school.
Located on the second floor of the campus, long lines of students formed on the first day as pupils patiently waited for their turn to open a savings account.
"I'm going to open my account with $10," said Martavius Rhone, 18, who like most of the students in line never owned an account before.
Martavius said he was tempted to open an account at a regular branch once, but changed his mind and became intimidated when he thought he didn't know enough about it.
"But here I see my classmates doing it," Martavius said standing next to dozens of youngsters holding cash on hand as if it were a ticket to independence, and for many, it almost was.
"I want to see what it's like to have an account," Kayla Davis, 15, said adding she had saved money in a piggybank before. "My mom was happy about it because she wants me to know how to manage money and stuff."
Credit Union and School Board officials said the branch will not only allow teller students to gain experience in a financial institution, but will teach students to learn about financial responsibility, security and independence.
"This is an excellent partnership; I wouldn't be surprised to see it spread to other schools," said Rapides Parish School Superintendent Gary Jones.
Another component of this project involves a Pelican credit counselor teaching students how to balance a check book, how to use a credit card wisely, and about the world of credit scores.
These are "things that they need to know now before they get out into the real world and ruin their credit," said Leigh Porta, Pelican State Credit Union marketing supervisor.
The branch, which is linked to the credit union's core operations, will open on Wednesdays morning from about 10 to 11 a.m. Students will earn the same interest rate as of a regular branch.
Officials said they are providing students some incentives to do better in school, such as scholarship opportunities, $1 for every A in their report card and can earn dividends on any money saved.