Germantown High students open the city’s first in-school ‘bank’ branch

Set to a backdrop of money themed songs by the O’Jays, Donna Summer and Ol Dirty Bastard, Germantown High School hosted a first-of-its-kind event in the city on Tuesday morning.

After six months of preparatory work, students in the school’s business technology class – with help from PNC Bank, the Business Center Youth Entrepreneurship Program and the school district – officially opened the “Germantown High School Bank” program.

While not an official bank branch on account of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulations, student managers and tellers will accept deposits, help open savings accounts and perform other tasks during Wednesday lunch periods.

Those transactions will then be taken to a nearby PNC Branch for deposit by business instructor Patricia Harrell, who led a program focused on entrepreneurship basics, life skills and, among other topics, business planning.

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Linda B. Winfield, community consultant/vice president for PNC Bank, said that while there are similar arrangements in South Jersey and elsewhere, the Germantown Bank Branch is the first in a Philadelphia public school.

“This is hands-on banking,” she told roughly 100 students assembled in the auditorium for a grand-opening ceremony punctuated by bank manager Shenae Thomas and assistant manager Barry Boyd cutting a ribbon. “You’re shaping your financial future today.”

Showing them the money

When Stephen Kinsey, a GHS graduate who won last month’s 201st state-representative primary race, referenced the “show me the money” line from the movie “Jerry Maguire,” nary a student recognized the reference.

However, they started paying closer attention when he talked about how depositing $5 a week or month could “quadruple” their bankroll in 20 years.

“When I was here, we didn’t have the opportunity to participate in such a program,” Kinsey said. “We’re encouraging you to realize this opportunity is in front of you.”

As part of the event, business-technology students were presented certificates for setting up the branch, four students were awarded $25 checks to start savings accounts on behalf of Kinsey and the GHS Class of 1976 and several classmates received prizes for answering financial trivia questions at the end of the nearly hour-long event.

“We look forward to banking with you,” said Thomas before heading down to the cafeteria to officially open the Germantown High School Bank program.

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