When the lunch bell rang Friday morning at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, some students reached into their pockets for a bit more than lunch money.
The school had the soft opening of its new MCT Credit Union branch Wednesday morning. Just after the ribbon cutting Friday morning, students like 17-year-old Alice Cook of Burtonsville were looking to take advantage of the new building’s newest amenity.
“I went to the actual one on Tech Road and then I came here and was like ‘This is great,’” said Cook, who began using the school’s branch about a year ago. “Instead of going all of the way there, I can just come to school and take out the money I need. Most of my money [goes] back into Paint Branch, I’ve found most of the time.”
The bank is an internship program through the school’s Rebecca F. Baber Academy of Finance that began in 2003 as a financial literacy specialty program that now serves about 125 students.
Through the program, students learn “how to spend their money” and “how to manage it so they can get more mileage out of their earnings,” said Rebecca Baber, coordinator for the bank and the namesake of the academy.
“It’s wonderful because we want students to leave Paint Branch with a sense of money management,” Baber said. “I hope that we can instill in all students the importance of banking.”
The National Academy of Finance is a college prep program through the National Academy Foundation. Courses offered in the county’s finance academy are financial planning, banking and credit, economics and the world of finance, international finance, accounting and entrepreneurial classes.
Upon completion of the academy, each student receives a diploma from the academy.
Cindy Jean, 17, of Silver Spring is one of the tellers who underwent four hours of bank teller training at MCT in order to receive her diploma. She first heard about the academy during her freshman year and joined during her sophomore year. She expects to complete the program by the end of her senior year this spring.
“I want to probably own my own business, so I know I have the background to know how to deal with customers and money,” Jean said.
Austin Jones, 16, of Burtonsville said working at the bank will help her later when she decides to work in the business world.
According to MCT’s website, Paint Branch, Glen Haven Elementary School in Silver Spring and Pathways School in Silver Spring are the only schools the bank offers in-school branches at in the county.
Paint Branch’s Principal Jeanette Dixon said the bank was specially designed for the school when it was undergoing the modernization process. She said anyone with an MCT account visiting the school could use the bank during business hours—Wednesday and Friday from 10:50 to 11:30 a.m.
“Today’s a very special day where we actually get to see the bank in its full glory open as it was designed five years ago, and I’m very pleased about that,” Dixon said. “I’m really pleased to see the number of students coming in and opening up accounts.”
Dixon said students who have graduated from the academy have gone on to degrees in business, work in financial institutions and federal government jobs. The program allows people from businesses to come in and work with kids on resume writing and job interviews.
Baber said the school’s bank is fully operational — allowing students to deposit, withdrawal up to $20 at a time and get a credit card at age 16, which they can carry with them even after graduation.
The bank’s most recent promotion is a $5 match program from MCT when students open a savings account and deposit $5, said Baber.