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Students take it to the bank at Haine Middle School

| Saturday, March 22, 2014, 2:15 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Claira Matthews, bank teller, accepts a cash deposit from 3rd-grader George Robinson, at Haine Middle School in Cranberry, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The school has started a banking program with PNC Bank, and students can make deposits into their savings account a few days a month.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Fifth-grader Dylan Kirchner, left, fills out deposit forms with help from her sister, first-grader Drew, and their mother, Tammy, at Haine Middle School in Cranberry, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The school has started a banking program with PNC Bank, and students can make deposits into their savings account a few days a month.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Fifth-grader bank teller, Leila Channaj , smiles as she wraps up a cash deposit at Haine Middle School in Cranberry, Thursday, March 13, 2014. The school has started a banking program with PNC Bank, and students can make deposits into their savings account a few days a month.

A student banking program at Haine Middle School has children taking control of their finances to learn money-management skills and banking confidence.

More than 40 kindergarten through sixth-grade students stop by the banking desk in the school's library on a student banking day on March 13 to deposit small amounts of cash or checks.

Other students worked as tellers to collect, count and file the money in the proper envelopes under the watchful eye of volunteer PNC employees.

“The hardest part is that you have to make sure you have the right amount of money,” said 12-year-old Claira Matthews, a sixth-grader working as a teller. “The best part is meeting all of the people that come in.”

The program, organized by the Haine Middle School PTO, is run through PNC and allows students to deposit small amounts of money into their PNC savings accounts on specified banking days,

Students can open a free savings account with a minimum deposit of $5 with no monthly service fee or use a pre-existing savings account and connect it to the program. Banking days are held twice a month every other Thursday.

Haine Middle School Assistant Principal Cassandra Doggrell said the banking program has had “stellar student turnout.”

“It allows students to have practical experiences that they can use for the rest of their lives,” Doggrell said. “And the program empowers students to manage their own money and make connections within the local banking community.”

Lisa Guerrini, PTO banking program coordinator, said Haine and Rowan Elementary School had student banking programs at in the past, but they fizzled out due to lack of interest. Rowan restarted the program last year with PNC, and once it was successful, organizers brought it to Haine. Haine's first banking day was Feb. 27.

Dorothy Channaj, a parent volunteer, said the math and banking skills taught through the program are invaluable. Her daughter Leila, a fifth-grader, began working as a teller at the student program in Rowan and continued when she moved up to Haine this year.

“It's good that they're learning this at an earlier age,” Channaj said. “Sometimes when they walk into banks, it's intimidating, but Leila enjoys it. She'd already like to be a teller when she grows up.”

Leila, 10, said the job is pretty easy once you get the hang out it. The hardest part is keeping track of all the forms and slips that come with banking.

“I like just interacting with other people and helping them,” she said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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