More than a class, students get real work experience at school bank

More than a class, students get real work experience at school bank
By: CJ Cassidy
FARMINGTON, Mo. - A group of Farmington High School students won't need to graduate to get some real life work experience as bankers. Even more impressive - they actually run the bank.
The school partnered with a local bank - First State Community Bank, to make it happen. They say they're banking on the future with this new venture. Students are thrilled. After all they not only get to find out about how to make some money - they're surrounded by it.
Meet Jessica Standfuss. The 18-year-old high school senior and track star enjoys hanging out with her friends, and did I mention she's President of a bank? "What's the toughest thing about it all? Probably making time to do all the out of school things like attending the Chamber of Commerce meetings and the board meetings," she says.
Then there's Derek Stroup. A football player, the 18-year-old senior can also add Bank Vice President to his resume. "We don't get paid. We get high school credit and maybe some college credit for it," he says.
Representatives at First State Community Bank worked with school leaders to open the branch back in August, and now it's run entirely by students, with bank staff supervising. "They showed us everything about what could happen with fake checks and how to detect everything that could possibly be scams," Stroup says. "I know this is really good for me in the future because it's getting ready for the future. There's so much learning, but it's all worth it in the long run," Standfuss says.
Bankers say they've learned some lessons too. "We just found that they don't write checks anymore. So we changed our policy, and now allow youngsters who are sixteen to sign up for debit cards, with a parent's signature, as opposed to waiting until they're 18. This younger generation does everything with debit cards, and that's one thing we changed directly as a result of our young bankers," Lynne Wisdom, Marketing Director for the FSCB explains.
Besides fresh ideas, they've also gained prospects for future employees and a whole slew of new customers. "They know they can trust us with their money, and it also makes me popular with the girls," Stroup chuckles.
As far as security goes, the Farmington Police Department's School Resource Officer is on hand to make sure the extra traffic through the school is closely monitored. Bankers say only a handful of student run banks exist in the country, but they hope it's an idea that catches on.