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Elementary School Dedicates ‘Twiglet’ Branch Bank

November 20, 1987

MIAMI (AP) _ The Twiglet Bank - organized by children, run by children and open only to children - was christened Friday with a bottle of cider and a young teller’s assurance that customers could be confident ″because I’m smart and dependable.″

″There were a lot of people out there today. It made us feel very proud of ourselves,″ said bank President Richard Bell, a sixth-grader.

Twiglet, so named because it’s smaller than a branch, was made an honorary member of the local Chamber of Commerce and given a scaled-down plaque at dedication ceremonies before an appreciative crowd of parents and pupils at David Fairchild Elementary School.

″It’ll be fun,″ said Nikki Russell, the sixth-grade chairwoman of the Twiglet board of directors. ″I never had the opportunity to be the boss of anybody.″

First National Bank of South Miami, which will serve as Twiglet’s depository, trained the 23 fifth- and sixth-grade officers, tellers, clerks and security guards on the Twiglet staff.

Other schools have started banks, but Twiglet went through the entire process of chartering a national bank, even receiving a ″pseudo-charter″ from the federal Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

Teller Arthur Rasco, a sixth-grader, was sure customers would be confident making deposits with him at the window.

″They’ll probably trust me, because I’m smart and dependable,″ he reasoned.

First National marketing director Sherrie Avery tried four times to break a bottle of sparkling cider before popping it open and spilling it over the corner of the bank building, a donated, renovated caboose.

Bruce McArthur, chairman of First National’s board, told the audience that he hoped their idea would spread.

″Then we’ll bring you back to the bank, and we’ll have a class on multibank holding companies 3/8″ he joked.

A covey of reporters, photographers and television crews covered the dedication, including a crew of sixth-graders from the school’s own station, WKID.

Cameraman Marc Gralnick explained that running a bank would help his fellow students learn not only math and computer skills, but social skills as well.

″If they just go out and they scream at people, it’s not going to work out, and they’re not going to get any accounts,″ he said.

The caboose was dedicated to Dr. William Renuart, the former principal of the public school, which has a lot of enrichment programs. Renuart worked hard to start the project.

″If you let them, they will be creative ... And if you help them, they’ll learn anything you want,″ said Renuart, recently transferred to another school.

Twiglet President Bell approached First National’s loan department for $2,500 to renovate the caboose. Snow cone sales would repay the loan, he said.

Twiglet is raising $2,500 in operating capital by selling $50 shares. Each ″stockholder″ gives a donation and receives no dividends or voting powers, although they will be invited to an annual meeting.

The bank opens for business on Dec. 7, initially offering savings accounts, followed by checking and loans next year as officers gain experience. Bank funds will be invested in certificates of deposit.

Students need $10 to open an account and must make subsequent deposits of at least a dollar per transaction.

″I think it’s fun dealing with money and helping people out with their problems,″ said customer service representative Allison Smith, a fifth- grader.

And what is the hardest part of running a bank?

Account representative Eboni Pittman, a sixth-grader, thought hard, scrunching up her face and squinting.

″Interest,″ she finally said. ″Because you have to add it up and calculate it.″

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