Show them the money: Naples High opens student-run bank

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Naples High School senior Sidney Hanson, left, helps senior Alison Roeser with her new bank account in the new student-run Suncoast Bank branch at Naples High on Wednesday. To encourage students to sign up, the student bankers set up a table in the school's courtyard with free popcorn and cookies and would then point them in the direction of the banking center to open accounts. Every Thursday during lunch hour, students will be able to come into the bank and set up accounts, make deposits, and learn basic banking from the student bank tellers.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE

Scott McIntyre/Staff Naples High School senior Sidney Hanson, left, helps senior Alison Roeser with her new bank account in the new student-run Suncoast Bank branch at Naples High on Wednesday. To encourage students to sign up, the student bankers set up a table in the school's courtyard with free popcorn and cookies and would then point them in the direction of the banking center to open accounts. Every Thursday during lunch hour, students will be able to come into the bank and set up accounts, make deposits, and learn basic banking from the student bank tellers.

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Naples High School senior Sidney Hanson, left, helps Steven Williams with his new bank account in the new student-run Suncoast Bank branch at Naples High on Wednesday. To encourage students to sign up, the student bankers set up a table in the school's courtyard with free popcorn and cookies and would then point them in the direction of the banking center to open accounts. Every Thursday during lunch hour, students will be able to come into the bank and set up accounts, make deposits, and learn basic banking from the student bank tellers.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE

Scott McIntyre/Staff Naples High School senior Sidney Hanson, left, helps Steven Williams with his new bank account in the new student-run Suncoast Bank branch at Naples High on Wednesday. To encourage students to sign up, the student bankers set up a table in the school's courtyard with free popcorn and cookies and would then point them in the direction of the banking center to open accounts. Every Thursday during lunch hour, students will be able to come into the bank and set up accounts, make deposits, and learn basic banking from the student bank tellers.

Naples High School senior Sidney Hanson collected a $135 deposit from school mate Steven Williams. Wearing a bright yellow T-shirt that said "Money rocks my credit union," Sidney counted out the bills, hand wrote a receipt and logged it in his ledger.

The whole process, part of a new student-run bank on campus, took less than five minutes to complete.

But Sidney said it took him months to be this comfortable handling his peers' money.

"After the first two weeks I was scared to pick up a pen, to write anything down," he said. "I was afraid of messing it up ... (bank) representatives were breathing down my neck."

The training paid off.

Wednesday, a dozen Naples High School students, including Sidney, officially opened the Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union student-run branch. It is the first of its kind in Collier County. Suncoast, which operates from Tampa to Naples, has 20 student branches.

"Our goal is to serve the community, give them a little bit of financial education like opening an account, managing an account," said Suncoast branch Manager Omar Estevez.

Students can open checking and savings accounts and make deposits at the Naples High branch. It is normally only open on Thursday during the 11:45 a.m. lunch break.

Around 30 students applied for the staff positions. After a rigorous application process and an interview with Estevez and branch managers, 12 students were chosen to run the branch. For the grand opening they wore matching T-shirts, which matched the Naples High colors.

Member Services director Laura Williams from the Horseshoe Drive branch oversees the operation every Thursday. The branch, which originally opened in October for a trial period, now has 34 members. And it's growing.

During Wednesday's official launch, a constant flow of students crowded the branch tables. Student branch leader Angela Dunn said they handed out more than 20 account applications to students, along with free cookies, popcorn, bracelets and more for the grand opening.

"The goal is to have a Suncoast ATM on campus," Angela said.

The branch needs 10 percent of the high school population — 160 students or staff members — to sign up for an account to get the ATM.

Math teacher Nancy DeFurio asked Suncoast to start a Naples student branch after seeing something similar in New York. She wanted students to have the opportunity to learn and understand finance.

"The real benefit for them will be when they're adults," she said. "They'll learn you shouldn't spend more than you make."

Already, other Collier schools have told Estevez they're interested in opening their own student branches.

"Most students have no idea what a bank account is or a debit card," Estevez said. He said the financial experience is invaluable for them.

Students and staff can open an account free of charge. There are no transaction fees. Suncoast will automatically deposit $5 into the accounts of the first 50 people who sign up at the Naples High branch.

Senior Rebecca Dutes said that's why she signed up for the credit union.

"I don't want to deal with fees like Bank of America," she said. Rebecca has already made four deposits into her account.

Sidney said every time a student deposits money, he hands them a token. Each month Suncoast draws two tokens to win a prize. Three-month credit union member and staffer Ashley Rocha already won a free flip camera through the drawing.

Steven Williams, the senior who first handed over his money to Sidney, said he signed up for an account a month ago to make it easier to access his money. He doesn't have a job yet but plans to get one soon.

Steven emptied his wallet of $135, filled out the deposit slip and let Sidney do the rest. He walked away with a lighter wallet and a token that just might turn into a free flip-camera.

Now, Steven's encouraging his friends to sign up for an account.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features