There’s a new bank coming to Germantown. In case one may think it’s means there is yet another bank merger, think again. It is a new student banking program at Germantown High School Promise Academy.
The “Paws in the Money” program will create the so-called Germantown Bank, sponsored by The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise and PNC Bank. The program’s name reflects the fact that Germantown High’s mascot is the bear. Information also reflects the schools colors of green and white.
Over at the secondary school located on Germantown Avenue between Haines and High Streets this spells good news. Assistant principal Sherin Philip Kurian is quick to point out that this is just one of the programs in the school’s Career and Technology Education program. Germantown teacher Patricia Harrell the Business Center’s educator Henrietta Hadley helped the students set up the program.
The Germantown Bank will officially be unveiled today. It will be with much fanfare and revelry as every freshman, sophomore, junior and even the graduating seniors will have the opportunity to open their own bank account. With as little as $5 and their identification in hand all are eligible—and for some this will be the first bank account they’ve ever had.
“We have a strong Career and Technology Program here,” said Philip-Kurian. “Under this umbrella are three programs. We have culinary arts, business administration and graphic design. This is an opportunity for students to acquire real life skills. They all have a double period of their major subject. We have about 250 students enrolled in these programs.
“I think it is important to give students the opportunity to get practical knowledge. We realize that not every student is going to go to college. So having them hear the manger of PNC Bank talk about that business or a chef come in from the Culinary Art Institute, they learn about opportunities. This bank, for instance, will open up the students’ eyes.”
Philip-Kurian added that those students on the college preparatory track are excelling alongside their counterparts who may opt not to go on to higher education. This is indicated by the rising scores at Germantown on the PSSA and SATs. There has been a recent “30 percent increase” in the scores, according to Germantown’s assistant principal.
To further stimulate the students they are all involved in enrichment programs. This includes robotics, filmmaking, aerobics, and other courses related to the creative arts, engineering or language. Every nine weeks the students change the course that is offered the next to the last period from 1:39 to 2:35 p.m. So, every student has a chance to experience four enrichments courses a year. “They do tend to rotate and explore all the disciplines,” Philip-Kurian said.
Much of the energy at Germantown High recently has been focused on the banking program.
Germantown Bank and learn more about business. Students like 16-year olds Barry Boyd and Shanae Thomas are among those who are actively participating in the program. Boyd, who lives in North Philadelphia, is a sophomore. Thomas is a junior from Logan who has had the opportunity to pen much of the promotional materials and correspondence distributed to staff, faculty and students about the banking program.
The students have already put together the banking paperwork. They have deposit and withdrawal slips. There is a way to track interest, balances and the type of deposits. The student tellers even have a space for their initials.
Germantown pupils also filled out a banking project survey. The form asked whether they had a bank account, at which bank, and whether they save money regularly. It also inquired of them whether they had a checking or savings account as well as would they be willing to open a new or additional savings account at the new Germantown Bank. Furthermore, students were recruited to work at the school bank and were asked how much per week did they anticipate they would deposit in it.
The School Bank Program encourages students to take an interest in saving and banking. Usually the PNC initiative targets elementary and middle school students, so the Germantown Bank marks the first time that the financial institution is doing a larger scale partnership at a high school. PNC branches and their Community Development Banking Department staff collaborate with schools like Germantown to do financial education.
“This will help students learn about responsibility first hand,” said Boyd “By working here and making deposit transaction you learn a lot. This is something positive for our school. We’ve been looking forward to May 15 because there are going to be raffles, giveaway of gifts and a lot of excitement. We’ll have the chance to tell the others about what baking is about.”
Thomas agreed. She said that as a precursor to the Germantown Bank’s grand opening she went on a trip excursion to the Federal Reserve Bank. There, she said, she learned about the banking position beyond simply being the teller. “I thought it was interesting how they had to be (diligent) about shredding certain papers because before I went I never really thought about that,” Thomas said.
One staff member who is working closely with the students is business teacher Harrell, who is a Germantown alumnus herself and a longtime Germantown resident. She said that since there are students at Germantown who already have part time jobs and some are anticipating working in the summer, having way to open a bank account at school is an educational it itself.
Harrell said that after the survey results were compiled one trend was that only a small percentage of students even had a bank account. “Some students come from backgrounds where they are just not familiar with the banking culture. They know about check cashing places and never thought about the importance of having a bank account or how this relates to their credit,” she said.
Hadley from The Business Center also teaches courses at the school. She assisted the students in making a pitch as to why get involved in the Germantown Bank. She said that students want to learn about banking and even want to take leadership roles in the Germantown Bank.
“This is going to help teach the students about financial literacy,” Hadley said. “They learn that banking is a growth industry. Many of them will be entrepreneurs and they need to understand banking. This is kind of our pilot program that was launched last December. Son we plan to take it to Overbrook and other Philadelphia School District high schools.”
That’s not all that is going on at Germantown High School either. The Associated Alumni of Martin Luther King High and the Germantown High Alumni Association held a fundraising basketball program on Friday, May 11. Proceeds from this benefitted various departments including the CTE, athletics and even provided for scholarships for students. The event was held at King, 6100 Stenton Ave. in East Germantown.