Student-run, deposit-only bank opens at Vulcan Prairieview

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With efficiency and professionalism, the students of Vulcan Prairieview Elementary School opened a deposit-only Junior ATB branch in their school Thursday, Nov. 21.

The bank program is offered through ATB Financial to encourage financial literacy, savings and real-life job skills.

As young tellers and “back cash” clerks waited patiently at their stations for the first customers to be allowed through, the remaining student bankers joined Vulcan ATB Manager Jarrod Shaw and Principal Shane Cranston in the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Twenty-two students from Grades 4 to 6 earned jobs with the bank following an application and interview process.  Virtually every job found in a bank is represented.

Grade 6 student C’Jay Humphrey, who was interviewed twice by ATB management before earning the position of vice-chair of the board, said much of the work so far has been to plan this special event.

Leslie Swan, a Grade 6 student, was among the first customers at the newly opened branch. Mom Elaine Swan took pictures as he made a $6 deposit.

“This is my first time in ATB,” he said, as he signed a deposit slip to put cash into his first bank account.

Elaine said her son’s  first question about the student bank  was whether he could get a credit card. She said she hopes this program will help the 11-year-old gain a better appreciation of what happens at the bank and how to save money for the future.

Program gives students practical experience

Palliser Regional Schools Trustee Robert Strauss marveled at the program that gives students such a practical experience with long-term value.

The Junior ATB Branch at Vulcan Prairieview is the only one of its kind south of Calgary.

“Kudos to Shane (Cranston) for getting on board,” Strauss said.

Josh Watson, who earned a spot as a greeter with the bank, made his own deposit on opening day at teller Nick Vaudry’s wicket.

“He’s good at it because he’s good with money,” Josh said, as he watched Vaudry, a Grade 5 student, at work. Vaudry said he’d had three or four customers so far, depositing some $30. Although he had a calculator at the ready, Vaudry boasted that he’d done all the addition in his head.

ATB runs in the family

The event featured a multi-generational element. Three retired ATB staff have grandchildren on staff at the Junior ATB. Gale Connelly retired in 1999 as head teller from the Vulcan branch where she had worked for 25 years. Her grandson Jaden Mitchell is one of the Junior ATB greeters.

“My grandson said he’s going to keep the generation going and he’s going to work for ATB,” said Connelly. “He was very excited (for the grand opening). He’s a little on the shy side and this has helped him a lot.”

Cranston said he’s watched the students embrace the new program and blossom in their new roles.

 “This was easier than I thought it would be,” he said. “They were just so excited. They’ve been so intrinsically motivated. . . . When you provide an opportunity to be a leader, they step up and go beyond what you’d expect.”

In addition to providing training and ongoing support, Vulcan ATB provides the school $1,000. Half of the money can go toward running the Junior ATB. The other half can be used for the benefit of the school. The students on the Board of Directors will consider requests for using the remaining $500.

Branch manager gives student bankers thumbs up

Junior ATB Chief Executive Officer Paige Liebriech, a Grade 6 student, said she’s gained many skills in the first few weeks on the job.

“It’s improved my math skills a lot, and most of all my leadership skills,” she said. Previous work experience included shoveling snow and doing chores. Now, once a month, she’ll be calling meetings of the Board of Directors to order.

The Junior ATB team’s first deposit day got the thumbs up from the Vulcan ATB manager.
“They were very prepared and very professional,” Shaw said.