Fifth grade students from Woodward Middle School received their first lesson in banking on Wednesday morning at the Stock Exchange Bank. The students, who are preparing to open a student store called “The Cool School Outlet,” visited the bank’s president Bruce Benbrook in order to ask for the loan and answer questions about their venture.

“We do this with them every year to teach them about the loan process,” Benbrook said. “I really grill them with about 30 minutes of questions, asking them all kinds of things about the loan and their store.”

Benbrook said he looks forward to the event every year.

Fifth grade math and science teacher Brenda Gartrell has been taking the students to the bank each year for all nine years she has been teaching in Woodward. She said that the teacher before her was also taking the students, so the program has been going on for many, many years. Other teachers involved are Tina Bouse, reading and English teacher and Diane Floyd, social studies teacher.

The kids began with a presentation to Benbrook, asking for the money and explaining that they had all invested in the business venture.

“Good morning. We are fifth graders from Woodward Middle School, asking for a moment of your time,” the kids read to Benbrook. “We have a requisition that we believe is going to turn out sublime. A goal of ours is to open our own business where we learn profit, responsibility and thinking on our feet. We will market school supplies, books and lots of nutritious foods at our school to eat . . . So, here is where we need your help. Sixty-two of us are here to ask for support and advice. We are requesting a $250 small-business loan. Please don’t think twice ...”

The process of asking for the loan ended a little different this year for Benbrook.

“And daddy - you can’t turn down your daughter and all of my classmates and friends,” read his daughter, Julia. “That would cause lots of tension around our house and it might actually put you in the ‘doghouse.’ Now you don’t want that do you? So, please don’t turn us down for this loan. We really need your help.”

Benbrook then asked the students several questions about their store, such as profits, marketing, advertising and convenience.

“People go into business for one reason, because they want to do what?” he asked them.

They responded quickly that they intended on making a profit.

“That’s the number one reason they go into business - to make a profit. That’s the most important thing I want you to learn today,” he said.

He also spoke to them about supply and demand, the importance of good employees, the convenience of the store being at the school and the fact that they would have lots of competition from Wal-Mart, Walgreens and other various stores around town.

“So, I’m a little concerned about that - you’ll have a lot of competition and you guys have to think about that. As your bank, that’s the first step - I have to be certain that you’ll be able to make a profit,” he said.

The students eventually reassured Benbrook about all of his questions, and learned a lot about the banking process at the same time. In the end, he gave the students the loan and the bank charged them $3.38 interest. The loan will have to be paid off in April.

Local attorney Renee Work also visited the fifth graders later in the day, bringing a binding agreement for them to go over and sign as well.

“The agreement basically stated that each of the students had invested $2,” said Gartrell. “Half of the profits will go to the school and the other half goes to the students. It also states what would happen if there’s no profit made - it’s a real legal, binding document.”

Gartrell said that the store would probably be open by Feb. 22. The students will be selling school supplies, nutritional snacks (juice boxes, oatmeal pies, etc.), “fun stuff” such as key chains, bouncy balls and yo-yos, and also scholastic books.

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