Students save with pocket change

February 1, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Endeavour Elementary School third-grader Zoe Czaja gives her deposit to her mom Teresa Czaja while third-grader Zander Schock forks over his money to his mom Alison Schock. By Laura Geggel

Whether depositing four quarters or a $30 check, Endeavour Elementary School students are saving for their futures through school banking.

“It’s hard to go into the bank,” said third-grader Katherine Holo, who earns money by doing chores. “It’s easier just to come here to school.”

Twice a month, Endeavour students can bring in their pocket change or birthday money to parent volunteers coordinating the student-banking program.

“I tell them, ‘If you want to bring me a quarter that you got from allowance, I’ll take your quarter,’” parent volunteer Teresa Czaja said. “‘I want you to get into the habit of making a deposit.’”

When she was in grade school, Czaja started a bank account of her own. She saved until she reached college and then emptied her entire account to buy a new car — a 1980 Datsun.

Holo employs a similar system.

“Instead of just wasting it at one time, it’s good to save it and buy one big thing,” Holo said.

The bank moms have a real rapport with their little bankers, always asking if students are saving money for anything special. Kindergartner Alexis Schock said she planned to buy another dollhouse with money from her chores and Christmas. If she keeps up her depositing rate, she may soon have a neighborhood.

Fourth-graders Cade Ames and Jadyn Dunn said they were saving for college, and fourth-grader Ellie Osterhout said she would save for two purposes: a higher education and fashionable clothes.

In the past, Washington Mutual led the program, awarding students with prizes each time they made a deposit during lunch or recess. When the bank failed and Chase bought it, the student banking program was discontinued.

Looking for a replacement was hard work until Czaja found that Washington Federal, a bank that started in Ballard in 1917, would pick up where Washington Mutual had left off.

Washington Federal started with Endeavor and has since spread to Challenger, Discovery and Creekside elementary schools, bringing the number of student bankers to more than 100.

“We thought that would be a good fit for us to reach out into the community,” Washington Federal Operation Supervisor Debbie Chaney said.

The bank also offers children an incentive. Those who open an account with a minimum balance of $5 will have it immediately matched, bringing their balance to $10. Student accounts also earn 0.25 percent interest, Chaney said.

“It’s a really good program for kids to learn the value of saving and the fact that they can do their deposits at school,” she said.

Parents interested in registering their children should contact their school. School PTAs that would like banking to come to their school should contact the closest Washington Federal branch.

Saving money also helps children set goals.

“I want a dog, so it’s going to take a lot of time,” fifth-grader Tiffany Zheng said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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