Chieftain Student Credit Union opened for business Tuesday at Dowagiac Middle School with eighth-graders McKinzie Kiggins, Annie Ennesser and Denver Luthringer behind the counter. Affiliated with Honor Credit Union, it is its first location in a middle school.

DMS opens credit union

Published 9:05pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A new credit union opened Tuesday in Dowagiac.
A division of Honor Credit Union, it’s in an unusual location — the middle school.
It’s called Chieftain Student Credit Union because that’s the name selected by the eighth-graders managing it.
Five months elapsed getting this first-of-its-kind financial institution to the point of a grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony with red balloons, cake and a herd of orange-T-shirted personnel.
Chieftain Student Credit Union grew out of Title I teacher Carrie Muessig’s desire for something more meaningful for Success Time.
Success Time is 20 minutes set aside daily for enrichment or more instruction on fundamental English or math concepts.
“There were 88 interested eighth-graders who wanted to be part,” Muessig said. “We democratically drew out of a hat to narrow it down to 30. All students had to go through the interview and job application process and ‘reference checks.’ I wanted to bring the community in. Then we had to teach the vocabulary — credit, debit, checking accounts. We interviewed 30 students and narrowed it down to 12.”
Jessica Kehrer, branch manager of Honor Credit Union on M-51 South, said, “We do student credit unions right now in elementary schools in St. Joseph, Stevensville, Coloma and South Haven. Carrie came up with the idea of bringing it to the middle school. This is the first middle school credit union we have. We made it as real world as possible. They dressed for the interviews.”
Chieftain Student Credit Union is open at lunchtime each Tuesday for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to transact business.
Or teachers. Life skills instructor Deanna Horrell appeared at the window with a $10 bill to make a deposit.
“She made a deposit into her own account,” Kehrer said. “They’re real Honor Credit Union youth accounts.”

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