A buzzing sound emerged from one of the computer rooms at Manchester Elementary School last week as nearly 30 fifth-grade students gathered for a new educational experience.
The students were preparing to collect money from their classmates to deposit in their new school-based bank, Bee-hive Savings.
They had been training for this moment, and they were as excited as, well, a swarm of bees.
The savings program, sponsored by Carroll County Bank & Trust Co., allows students to open an account with as little as $1. Each Wednesday, they can make deposits.
The bank's interest in the program stemmed from a brainstorming session between Lee Primm, the bank's senior vice president for consumer services, and other bank officials.
They were looking for ways to be more active in the community.
"I thought about my own involvement in a U.S. Savings Bond program when I was young," Primm said. "The year was 1947, and I was in elementary school, and we had access to a savings bond program. We had the same kind of setup.
"We could start with a minimum of 10 cents. The amount we put into the program represented the purchase value of the savings bond. And we had a big contest. We had certain colors represent certain amounts of deposit. It was a neat program."
Before opening for business Wednesday, student tellers gathered in the computer room and collected their baskets, which contained deposit slips and caramel-colored envelopes for students' receipts.
After getting final instructions from Carroll County Bank & Trust Co. personnel, the students went to their classrooms. About half DTC an hour later, they returned with their baskets and money to record the transactions.
Teller Samantha Gartell, 10, sat down at a table with Tammy Bynaker, a banker with Carroll County Bank and Trust, and began to work through the system.
"First write down the name, the account number and the amount," Bynaker said. Samantha diligently proceeded.
Bynaker said bank employees came to the school for a few hours one day and went over the forms and the system with the students. They later staged a mock bank opening.
One girl returned Wednesday looking somewhat stunned, basket in hand.
When asked by a visitor how much she collected, she blurted out: "Nothing. They all forgot to bring their money."
Diana Fisher, a parent volunteer and mother of teller Amy Fisher, 10, said she decided to participate so she could spend more time with her daughter.
"We used to have something like this when I was in school, and it was really great," Fisher said. "This teaches the kids responsibility. It helps Amy with her math, and it gives me more time with her."
Harry Cutcher, 10, and Shawn Hockstad, 10, were excited about their first "day on the job," as Cutcher put it.
"I really wanted to have a job," Harry said. "And I thought this would be fun and a good experience."
Shawn said he already had a savings account and signed up to be a teller to better understand banking.
"I wanted to learn how everything operated. My first day was really exciting. I got five envelopes," he said.
The bank's opening was preceded by a contest to name the bank. The students submitted names and the winner received $10.
On hand to give support to the program earlier this fall and announce the contest winner were Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon and Primm.
Second-grader Mason Clinedinst, 7, won the contest with his entry, Bee-hive Savings.
His motto for the bank: "Money in the bank is as sweet as honey in the hive."
According to faculty and bank officials, the program is about more than just savings.
"It's a plus for the bank because of the community involvement, and it's a plus for the students because [the program] will be integrated into their curriculum," said Dixon, who has initiated a statewide school-based savings program.
Carroll County Bank's school savings program is an independent effort.
"The positive aspect is that it will teach student the importance of saving," said Principal Bob Mitchell. "With the fifth-graders, who are tellers, it gives them responsibility."
Pub Date: 10/27/96