Canon-McMillan High School launches student-run branch of Washington Area Federal Credit Union

(Pictured: CM Junior Will O'Bryan working Big Mac Banking)
Posted On: Monday, September 19, 2022

(Pictured: CM Junior Will O'Bryan working Big Mac Banking)

This article was written and released by Karen Mansfield of the Observer-Reporter. Please click here for the original article.

At Canon-McMillan High School, students have a new and unique way to learn financial literacy.

Canon-Mac and Washington Area Federal Credit Union recently launched a student-run credit union branch inside the high school.

The credit union, named “Big Mac Banking,” officially opened on Aug. 30.

The branch is open during the high school’s lunch periods on Tuesday and Fridays, and staffed by student tellers who are assisted on-site by a Washington Area Federal Credit Union employee.

The credit union interviewed and hired three students who work alongside Washington Area FCU team members at the student-led branch.

The high school branch has essentially all of the same functionality of a full-size branch.

Canon-McMillan High School business education teacher Michele Moeller proposed the initiative as a way of enhancing students’ fiscal literacy and providing a work-based learning experience.

“Big Mac Banking is exposing them to real-world experiences and provides opportunities for internships and to build their resume and portfolio,” said Moeller, who eventually plans to open a branch in the district’s elementary school and have students from the high school Credit Union Club work with elementary students on the benefits of saving, and starting early.

Students, school district employees, and families of students can utilize Big Mac Banking for services ranging from applying for a car loan, opening a savings account, or withdrawing money for a Gatorade.

The project was a big undertaking, one that also included help from retired Director of Curriculum and Instruction Grace Lani and high school principal Ken Crowley, along with the students.

“This is a very unique and creative opportunity for our students to participate in,” said Crowley. “Our underclassmen who have an interest in financial literacy are now able to see a career-based educational opportunity that they can participate in as an upperclassmen, and our upperclassmen are able to further grow their financial literacy skills as they prepare for their post-secondary plans.”

The student workers, seniors Calvin Daniels and Thanh Tran, and junior Will O’Bryan, underwent in-depth training during a two-month summer internship to prepare them for operating Big Mac Banking.

They became capable of handling several areas of banking, from handling cash, opening new accounts, and troubleshooting home and mobile banking to core system operations and general credit union services and operations.

Washington Area FCU Chief Financial Officer Rebecca Hall said the Washington Area FCU staff enjoyed working with the three students during the internship, and credit union members embraced them.

“They were engaged, enthusiastic, respectful, and beyond helpful,” she said.

O’Bryan, who plans to pursue a career in in finance, said working at Big Mac Banking has been enjoyable and informative.

“I have learned a great deal about the field of banking and how financial institutions work. I have also enjoyed and learned a lot interacting with and assisting students,” said O’Bryan.

Washington Area FCU is excited to have the opportunity to help students understand the basics of personal finance and act as a resource to help them make health financial decisions.

“For both kids and adults, I don’t think anyone can ever have too much help when it comes to learning about financial literacy,” said Hall. “We’re excited about this, and excited about where it might go.”

The branch is open to all grades, but only juniors and seniors are eligible to work there.

Big Mac Banking is open for business on Tuesdays and Fridays during lunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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