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Bank employees help to develop young business minds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When 10-year-old Vanlyah Scott grows up she wants to be a police officer or run her own nail salon. When the Junior Achievement program visited her Dunbar Intermediate Center Tuesday, she picked up a few tips to help get there.

"We played some games and learned more about mathematics, science and engineering and different technology in business," Scott said. "We did a lot of fun activities."

Twenty Huntington Bank employees volunteered during Tuesday's event. The goal was to have students in third- and fifth-grade think about saving money and how business functions on a very basic level. It was the bank's second year participating in the program.

Scott and her fifth-grade classmates took a hands-on approach to understanding the global economy. After Huntington Bank volunteers Kevin McGill and Barry Dobson presented the class with the business idea of an environmentally friendly car company, the class needed to figure out how to manufacture their product.

Each student received a card with items like steel or fabric needed to assemble the finished product. The items came from all over the globe. As each material was needed in assembly, students raised their hand to signal that they had it. When students had an item, a string would be passed to them connecting them to classmates with other items needed for manufacturing.

Before long, the white string zigzagged throughout all corners of the classroom, and McGill said, "Guys, this is what is called a global economy. Every business is in a global economy."

Dunbar Intermediate Principal Sharon Brooks said Tuesday's program was a unique learning opportunity for students.

"They were bringing it to real life. ... So it's really giving them the real world in the classroom," she said.

This is the first year the program has been taken to Dunbar. Brooks said it started with Huntington Bank helping to write a grant that enabled the school to provide backpacks to students at the beginning of the year.

After, they talked about the Junior Achievement program. Bankers worked with third-graders on responsible savings and spending, while fifth graders focused on business management and opportunities.

The Junior Achievement Worldwide program began in 1919. The program has operated in West Virginia since 1971 with the first classes beginning in Charleston.

Now the Junior Achievement program can be found in five Eastern Kentucky counties and 51 in West Virginia. The four Northern Panhandle counties are serviced by the Junior Achievement program in Western Pennsylvania.

Brooks said it was nice to see so many students learning, engaged and cooperating in groups.

Bill Crum, a banker with Huntington Bank, said it's important for Huntington as a community member to give back when it can.

"The biggest thing is for them to think there is a possibility for me to do something like this in the future," Crum said.

When addressing students, Crum challenged them to think of a business idea and what they would need to make it successful. To his pleasant surprise, a few students already had ideas ranging from a cosmetic makeup company to a babysitting service for animals.

"They've already been thinking about this long before we got here," Crum said. "We come out and talk in settings like this and get the children to start thinking like this because it won't be that long before they're out of school and in the workforce."

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

 


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