“It’s your painting.”
It was a statement repeated in the boardroom of the Area Five Agency on Aging on Wednesday afternoon as a group of teenagers held a board meeting.
There was a bit of chaos, some misunderstanding of roles, some general confusion about what was to come.
This is part of what Logansport Savings Bank had in mind when they created the Junior Board and invited four students from Caston, Lewis Cass, Logansport and Pioneer to participate.
While Caston students were unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, the 12 other juniors and seniors who make up the board of directors were first treated to a presentation by Area Five Executive Director Chuck LaDow and Bruno’s Pizza before getting to work.
This month, the company was planning its annual meeting, how to select new officers for the 2022-23 school year, and how they should vote to donate to a Cass County nonprofit.
Logansport Savings Bank was inspired by similar programs from other banks and in the 2019-2020 school year began working with local schools. They told schools they were looking for students who were leaders and wanted to give back to their communities. Each school nominated four students to join the council.
Students serve two years on the board, beginning as juniors and continuing through their senior year.
The goal of the Junior Board is to give students the opportunity to learn about careers in the area and the types of education and experience needed, to give them a chance to serve the community, and to give them the real-world experience of serving on a board and holding positions. such as president, secretary and treasurer.
“The idea was to build this pipeline for them and our community so we could educate them on different career opportunities, what it’s like to sit on a board,” said Sandi Korreckt, COO of deposit at Logansport Savings Bank. “We thought it was really important to educate our young people and help them see what is here in our community and how important volunteering is.
Unfortunately, midway through the junior council’s first year, COVID-19 hit, pushing back those plans in exchange for Zoom meetings.
Brant Higgins, vice president of the board and senior at Logansport High School, was one of the students who got to experience virtual boarding.
“My freshman year was during COVID, so it was harder to learn because most (of the curriculum) was virtual,” he said. “There was definitely a big learning curve about working together. Once we got to know each other, things became a lot smoother.
Now that the pandemic is subsiding, students have been able to visit area businesses and nonprofits, meet local leaders, tour facilities, and see the many ways people contribute to the community.
At Wednesday’s meeting, students ask how certain aspects of the council and future plans should work.
“It’s your board of directors,” they are told once again.
It is controlled chaos. Five members of the bank are seated nearby, ready to offer advice. Chad Higgins, president and CEO of Logansport Savings Bank, shared stories of his time in the trenches of the boardroom as students decide how to donate to a local nonprofit.
“I love this discussion here,” he said. “This probably sounds confusing to you guys and you’re thinking, ‘Can we go back to school, please? “-“
He is interrupted by a resounding no.
“…but it’s learning, even if you don’t think so.”
Students are paid $15 per hour by the bank to volunteer in the community. At the end of the program, students work together to choose a nonprofit organization to donate their earnings to. Each student studies a nonprofit organization and makes a presentation to the board during the school year.
“When you walk into the real world – whether at college or work – and you’re asked to sit on a committee or a board, what does that look like?” said Joshua Hopper, vice president of information security and head of mortgages.
He said students learn to vote on matters and change regulations. Wednesday’s meeting was the first time since the program began that students had a real opportunity to dig into their constitution and share ideas about possible changes to create better transitions each year as seniors graduate and that new members come on board.
“We get a lot of leadership experience through this program,” said Kaylie Williams, a Lewis Cass senior and board secretary. “I enjoy working with everyone in this program. I have met many friends and people that I can look up to. We have very good children in this group and they are all doing very well.
“Before joining the junior council, I wasn’t very familiar with services like Area Five,” said Jaden Chin Hong, a junior from Logansport High School. “It’s been a learning experience for me, especially going to all these places and learning what they do, how they help people. I really appreciate being part of this council – I think everyone should do something like this because you don’t get a lot of opportunities to go to these places unless you already know them.
Christina Truax, the bank’s compliance assistant, said she loved the excitement the students showed when they discovered a new resource in the area that they previously didn’t know was available. Truax oversees the junior council.
For Pioneer junior Alex Pawlowski, the highlight of the program so far has been meeting Logansport Mayor Chris Martin and hearing about his future plans for the city.
“My favorite thing is to be confident that we are helping to pave the way for the future of these children,” Korreckt said. “They are really great kids. If they come back to the community (after college), they will do great things.
Late in the afternoon, Higgins and Hopper drag the Vice President into successfully adjourning the meeting. There’s no hammer, but 12 students head to the cars for a return to school and a bright future.
And, maybe one day, a leadership role in their local community.