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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

MountainOne Investing In Hands-On Student Learning

12:00AM / Saturday, October 28, 2006

back row, Matt Labombard, Kimberlee Guettler, Kate Reardon, front row Samantha Zeitler, Alyssa Pilling, Owen Morris [original photo TGL/Traits]
North Adams - MountainOne Financial Partners, working in cooperation with five northern Berkshire County public high schools, has established a Junior Board of Directors program that will provide participating students with a better understanding of how businesses operate.

MountainOne President & Chief Executive Officer Stephen G. Crowe made the announcement at the Junior Board's first meeting Thursday afternoon in the MountainOne Board Room at Hoosac Bank.


back row Kaitlin Roy and Corbin Apkin, front row, Veronica Kelly and Kollin Allard [original photo TGL/Traits]
"We know of no other Junior Board of Directors program at any financial institution in the Northeast," Crowe said. "We're very excited about this innovative program and the opportunity it provides to partner with our community schools and to educate young people about the business world."

The Junior Board of Directors is composed of two students each from five schools: Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, Charles H. McCann Technical School, Drury High School, Hoosac Valley High School, and Mount Greylock Regional High School. Each year, the Junior Board will include five seniors and five juniors.

Alyssa Pilling and Kate Reardon of the Charles H. McCann Technical School, Kollin Allard and Owen Morris of Drury High School, Kimberlee Guettler and Matt LaBombard of Hoosac Valley High School, Corbin Apkin and Samantha Zeitler of the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter School and Veronica Kelly and Kaitlin Roy of the Mount Greylock Regional High School are the first students chosen to serve on the junior Board of directors.

School faculty and administrators assisted with the selection of the student representatives from their school, based on criteria including the student's desire to pursue a business future, academic strength, outgoing personality, and participation in extracurricular activities. The students- with the exception of this year's seniors - will serve two-year terms coinciding with the school calendar.

During its monthly meetings in the MountainOne Board Room, the Junior Board will learn about important business topics, including marketing, sales, finance, operations, insurance and investments. The "teachers" for each of these sessions will be top-level professionals from various MountainOne departments.

Following each presentation, the students will conduct an in-depth discussion on that topic before focusing their attention on their annual project. The 2006-2007 Junior Board's annual project involves planning and launching a teen debit card.

"We hope the Junior Board of Directors program will benefit both the students and MountainOne," said John G. Merselis Jr. chairman of MountainOne's Board of Directors. "The students will learn important lessons about critical business disciplines, and the annual project will give them an opportunity to teach us about marketing to teens."

Junior Board members will be invited to MountainOne's annual meeting at the Williams Inn in April, before making their annual project presentation in May.

Liz Bissell, assistant vice president, Marketing, said that MountainOne is looking for more opportunities to partner with local schools on financial education programs. Employees are already implementing portions of State Treasurer Tim Cahill's Saving Makes "Cents" program at area elementary schools, and are conducting exploratory meetings with representatives from the North Adams Public Schools' LINCS program, hoping to offer more structured financial education at all levels.

"In any program we implement, education will be a primary focus," Bissell said. "Our goal is to help provide local students of all ages with the financial education they need to become fiscally fit adults."

MountainOne Financial Partners, MHC, is a mutual holding company that comprises four wholly owned subsidiaries: Hoosac Bank, Williamstown Savings Bank, True North Financial Services, and Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency. The four companies total more than 100 employees at their offices in Adams, North Adams and Williamstown.
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