It’s safe to say that one would not generally associate financial literacy with rap music, apart from the occasional bankrupt former star’s lack thereof.
However, one group of student bankers from Medway High School’s Charles River Bank branch brought the two very different industries of banking and hip-hop together for a constructive purpose at this year’s Massachusetts School Bank Association (MSBA) Annual Spring Conference in April.
“In my wallet, I’ve got a couple of cards to choose from / Both are plastic just different ways to use them,” are the opening lyrics of the students’ rap, written to educate their peers on the differences between debit and credit cards, and performed as one of three event challenges. “Offering a way to access money without carrying around cash / But there are some precautions so here’s a little mash / One is based on credit, the other used to debit / I’ll break them both down / By the end I know you’ll get it.”
The rap, which took first place in the conference’s Product Development challenge, touches on PINs, rewards systems, cosigners and various other aspects of modern card usage.
“The best way we learn and remember informational presentations, being high school students, is through a song, so that is exactly what we created,” said senior Ashley Paturzo, who spearheaded the presentation, which took months of preparation and practice, and was performed decked out in oversized clothes, fake “bling” hanging around their necks. The backing track was a fair-use creation from producer Cazar Beatz.
For Paturzo and her 13 fellow MHS student bankers, the Spring Conference was the culmination of a year of training in financial literacy. They spent that time carrying out the day-to-day duties of their in-school branch, which offers any and all services a regular bank branch would, albeit on a slightly smaller scale due to the location.
MHS Branch Supervisor and MSBA Vice President Joan Gavini-Campbell described how the MHS branch has a history of success at the Spring Conference, having taken multiple first place prizes in multiple categories over the past few years. This year, competing against almost 30 other school, junior Cameron Martin took first place in the individual essay contest and the MHS marketing challenge entrants won fourth place, in addition to the Product Development win.
“For these kids, it’s the holy grail,” Gavini-Campbell said of the students who applied and interviewed for the job, and were held to the same standards as any banking professional. “It’s not just the coveted plaque – they come home from having had a good day, using all they’ve learned. It’s a rite of passage.
“I see them in a difference light now – the are adults. They’re ready to move on,” she added. “And their responsibility in that branch prepares them a little better. They realize that there’s a world out there. Money makes the world go round, and they understand that.”