BROOKSVILLE — Savannah Strickland has a babysitting gig, a piggy bank and a dream.
"A car would be nice," the 16-year-old junior at Central High School said with a smile.
Strickland can crack her piggy bank.
The Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union on Friday opened its first branch in a Hernando County school. The Central Bear Branch at Central High is operated by students, for students, and offers savings and checking accounts.
"It's really exciting to be a part of something that will help us in real life," branch manager Vanessa Lobo said as she slid a pair of oversized scissors onto a red ribbon spanning the auditorium ticket office window.
The 17-year-old senior gave the scissors a squeeze.
"I proclaim this credit union branch open!"
The ticket office will double as the bank branch during business hours: every Friday from 10:37 a.m. to 12:36 p.m., which coincides with Central's three lunch periods.
Students must be 16 years old to open a checking account, and those younger than 18 must have a parent co-signer. They cannot make withdrawals from the branch. But once the credit union membership reaches 10 percent of the student population, an ATM will appear in the cafeteria, said Juli Lewis, Suncoast's youth marketing coordinator.
Students applied for the dozen or so bank positions, ranging from tellers to managers. A credit union employee is always on hand to double-check transactions and handle the deposit box.
Other than that, "We kind of just stand back and let the students work," Lewis said.
The positions aren't paid. But assistant bank manager Samantha Frausto is fine with that.
"We get paid in sense of accomplishment and knowledge," said Frausto, a 17-year-old junior.
Suncoast started the school branch program in 2002. Hernando joins other counties with the program, including Hillsborough and Pasco. All told, there are 22 high school branches, three middle school branches and six elementary school branches, Lewis said.
Central principal Joe Clifford signed off on the idea soon after Kathleen Grattan, manager for Suncoast's Spring Hill branch, approached him.
"It's the right thing to do for kids so they can learn life skills early," Clifford said. "Hopefully they will learn to put some (money) away."
Lauren Glemza says she's ready to start.
The 15-year-old sophomore bags groceries at Winn-Dixie. She admits to a weakness for the Walmart cosmetics counter. She says having access to her money at school would be nice.
But Glemza is also thinking about the need for a nest egg to put herself behind the wheel.
"I'm getting my license soon."
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431.