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Duanesburg school banking on branch to be learning experience

Duanesburg school banking on branch to be learning experience

First New York Federal Credit Union opened a branch at Duanesburg High School on Nov. 1 as part of a

Duanesburg High School students patiently waited for the bank to open so they could deposit their birthday and chore money.

The problem — getting a teller. After a short delay, a replacement was found.

“We have reinforcements,” said business teacher Connie Toler. “This is our second week, so it’s a matter of still getting in the swing of things and working out kinks.”

First New York Federal Credit Union opened this branch on Nov. 1 as part of a joint initiative with the high school. Students in the Future Business Leaders of America club are staffing the bank, which is open Tuesdays from 1 to 1:30 p.m. for use by students and staff members.

Toler, who is the adviser for the Future Business Leaders of America, said she got the idea of having a bank branch and talked with the adviser of the business club at Schoharie High School, which also has a First New York branch. Coincidentally, the Duanesburg district superintendent was also looking at starting a branch.

“It all came together at the same time,” Toler said.

Toler said the students gain valuable experience in banking. The tellers are actually trained at one of the local branches.

“They learn the process of what a teller actually does and also the soft skills — how to greet customers, how to treat people well,” she said.

Students also learn that they have to show up when they are supposed to show up.

The students don’t have access to any personal or financial information of the customers, according to Toler. They handle and distribute the money and the transactions are logged into the computer at the school and then taken back to the regular bank, where they are uploaded.

Junior Gretta Jones, 17, said there weren’t a lot of people willing to step forward, so she agreed to give up her lunchtime and volunteer for the bank.

“I thought it would be a really good experience,” she said.

Senior Alanna Countryman, 17, said the most difficult part was trying to remember exactly what they have to do in the computer system and what buttons to press.

Seventh-grader Nick Passonno, 12, said he likes the convenience.

“Now, I can actually keep my money somewhere — put it to good use.”

Even though he is four years away from getting a driver’s license, Passonno is saving for a car.

“You’ve got to think down the road,” he said.

As another bonus, the bank puts the first $5 into a new account.

Seventh-grader Jacob Meyer, 12, said he liked parking his cash somewhere, “so I don’t spend my money so fast.”

This is the fourth student-run bank that First New York has, joining branches at Schenectady, Mohonasen and Schoharie high schools. The first one opened in March 2005 at Schenectady High.

“It gives them a little bit of responsibility while they’re in high school. I think it’s important to the kids,” said Lauren Schmid, member services representative at the credit union.

Carol D. Valenza, vice president of marketing and business development, said students are also responsible for designing marketing campaigns to attract business to First New York. It also sets the foundation for a potential career.

“A lot of our student tellers end up working for us when they graduate or in the summer, depending on their situation,” she said.

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