LAFAYETTE, La. – All high school students accepted into the public school district's Academy of Finance here will receive financial training at Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union. Of course, it helps that the credit union has a branch located inside Acadiana High School, where the Academy of Finance is also housed. The Academy of Finance opened this fall and has a current enrollment of 40. It is part of a "schools of choice" program the parish intends to implement by Fall 2004, whereby students will be able to choose to attend a high school based not only on zoning, but also on acceptance into a particular academy. In addition to finance, five other academies are on the drawing board to offer training in the fields of health sciences, engineering, jewelry, travel and tourism, and information technology. Lafayette Schools' FCU began working with Acadiana High School in the spring of 2002, when the school system approached the credit union to partner with them in supporting the Academy of Finance, according to Kelly Courville, LSFCU marketing specialist. After obtaining approval to amend its charter, LSFCU's on-campus branch opened its doors to all students of the school and their immediate families. Credit union membership is also open to the faculty of the high school, as has been the case for the past 49 years. "The Acadiana High School branch is a full-service facility, open three days a week during the school's two lunch periods. Students can open a share account with a minimum deposit of $10 and a checking account with a minimum deposit of $25. They can apply for ATM cards, credit cards, car loans or any of the other credit union services at the in-school branch," Courville said. The credit union will be working with the Academy of Finance to provide classroom instruction, and all Academy students will receive behind-the-scenes training in the credit union branch. Student tellers of the campus branch receive additional training. Supervised by a credit union employee, six student tellers man the branch. The student tellers were selected by the faculty and trained during the summer at LSFCU's main office. Training continues year-round, as each day is a learning experience for them in money management, personal skills, and financial literacy. Students are paid for their summer training at the credit union and receive school credit for their teller internships during the school year. "This is different than anything I've ever done before. It's teaching me responsibility and how to deal with money," said Lauren Ruelas, a senior at Acadiana High School and one of the student tellers. AHS Junior Jarrod Guilbeau, another of the student tellers, adds: "You get to meet all kinds of interesting people, and learn how to interact with them to help them." -

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