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Bulldogs cut ribbon for financial responsibility

BayPort Credit Union representatives and King’s Fork High School students and faculty cut the ribbon for the re-opening of the school’s student-run credit union on Friday.

BayPort has been partnering with schools since 2014 to open fully-functioning credit union branches inside the school buildings. King’s Fork High and Driver Elementary are two of the 36 participating schools in Suffolk, Gloucester, James City County, Newport News, York County, Hampton and Smithfield, according to bayportcu.org.

King’s Fork High School seniors Richard Whitfield, 17, Niyasia Scott, 17, Garrett Heard, 18, and Shamir Blaydes, 17, are the tellers for their school’s branch. Each of them applied to be BayPort employees with hourly wages and completed training, BayPort Financial Education Supervisor Kris Moore said.

“They get the same training and security checks that we go through,” Moore said.

She added that the students get both work experience and valuable lessons on personal financing.

“It gives the students an opportunity for hands-on banking, and to see the value of building your savings account at an early age,” Moore said.

These students accept membership applications, handle withdrawals and deposits and answer questions in shifts during lunch hours and study blocks. Lessons from classroom courses in personal finance and economics come in handy, Career and Technical Education Teacher Cynthia Crandol said.

“I think it’s good for them, because it lets them apply what they’ve learned in the classroom,” teacher Crandol said.

Blaydes said the position was convenient for her schedule, and it’s offered her valuable customer service experience.

“You just try to emphasize as politely as possible that they have to do their part in order for us to help them,” Shamir Blaydes said.

Other students establish their own BayPort accounts to learn to responsibly manage their money as well, Scott said.

“A lot of kids our age don’t know how to do any of this, and that will affect them later in life,” she said.

She’s also realized that she enjoyed aspects of the work, a finding shared by her fellow teller, Whitfield.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot.”

These student tellers will get plenty of experience this fall as more students take advantage of the on-site banking.

“You can’t always get them out to the workplace, so it was kind of BayPort to bring the workplace to us,” said Gail Bess, coordinator of career and technical education.