The Times of Trenton (New Jersey)
By: Rich Bockmann
October 3, 2010
As part of a comprehensive project to teach students financial literacy, Lawrence High School opened an on-campus bank during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday night.
"We noticed that children today want real-world application. It's important for them to see meaning in what they're learning. And so this is a good way that we can give them the education curriculum parts and they can apply what they learned," said Jen Polakowski, grants manager for the Lawrence Township Schools.
Cardinal Bank is part of a financial literacy education project that is funded by a $20,000 grant from the Lawrence Township Education Foundation.
"Two years ago there was a gala held to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the LTEF, and part of the funds that were raised from the gala were used as seed money to start the bank," said Ivy Cohen, Executive Director of the LTEF.
The bank, which is located in the lunchroom, is open to students, faculty and staff and also handles the student activities account.
Crystal Lovell, assistant superintendent, spoke before a large crowd prior to back-to-school night.
"We couldn't just do it with us and the LTEF, we had to find a bank. We were very fortunate in that we had a bank right here in the community -- First Choice Bank -- who was brave enough to trust us with their money," Lovell said.
First Choice Bank will advise and service all of the transactions for Cardinal Bank, according to Gary Rossi, who manages the Lawrence Township branch of First Choice and is on the LTEF board of trustees.
Four outstanding seniors were recommended by their business teacher, Diane Schneck, to work as tellers at the bank during lunchtime.
"They were excellent candidates. I would have hired them even without a recommendation," Rossi said.
Brittany Weary, one of those students, said, "I like knowing about business and how it works in my life, so I guess working at the bank helps me with being on top of my money and things like that."
"We're trying to make this a K-12 initiative," Polakowski said.
"Even though it's being held here in the high school, eventually we'll open it up to the younger grades and educate them about saving and using our students as their mentors."
Polakowski opened her own checking and savings accounts with the bank.
The novelty of this project was not lost on the administration.
"Soon we'll have our own mall. That's the next project we're working on," Lovell joked.