PATERSON, NJ - Students at John F. Kennedy High School are getting a taste of working in the world of finance. In January, they will be opening a student-run credit union at the school.

They are calling it "The Castle...Where Knights Do Their Banking.''
This is no amateur affair. The program is being run in conjunction with North Jersey Federal Credit Union, and the office at the high school will operate as a branch of the Totowa-based institution. The credit union will open three days a week, with a teacher and a North Jersey Federal representative on hand at all times. It will take deposits from staff at the school as well as students.
 
"It gives out students hands-on experience for a possible career,'' Kennedy Principal Joseph Andriulli told the Board of Education during a presentation about the program on December 15.
 

Several students from the 27 participating in The Castle told the school board of the opportunities the program presented.
 
"The bank will give me the experience I need to prosper in the banking world,'' said one student.
 
The Castle will be located near the main entrance to the school, just down the hall from the principal's office. All 27 students had to undergo four days of training by North Jersey Federal staff. They learned things like how to spot counterfeit bills, what to do in case of a robbery and how to observe the confidentiality of business customers.
 
The students praised their trainers. "They were patient and took the time with the lesson to help in sink in,'' said another student.
 
North Jersey Federal's chief operating officer, Richard Bzdek, and its vice president for sales and marketing, James Griffin, assured the school officials that safeguards were in place to preserve customers' privacy. For example, the credit union officials said, students would not be able to check customers' balances; view personnel information like social security numbers, addresses and ages; or research credit background information like credit card balance or bankruptcy histories.
 
Moreover, they said the school branch office would get complete security measures, such as alarms, a safe and a digital video recording system.