As a teacher, I am happy to report that several responses to our latest contest for the presidency of Schmidlap National Bank involved education and rewarding student excellence.

I recently asked readers for their thoughts on how much bank-sponsored public events benefit the community and the bank and for examples.

Jack Steinmetz, now Midwest regional manager for Atlantic Bank of New York, said that when he took over as president of Manufacturers National of Bay City, Mich., he introduced himself to the community by throwing a party. Inserted into the 800 invitations sent to customers and noncustomers were individual keys.

"The afternoon of the party, the locksmith changed the front door lock to match the 800 keys we sent out with the invitations," he wrote. "An off-duty sheriff's deputy 'guarded' the front door and made everyone open the door with his or her personal key. Teller stations became bars, and check counters became food-serving areas. Customers approached the tellers for months afterward and asked for 'a money order and a beer.''

John P. O'Reilly, assistant vice president of marketing at Ulster Savings Bank of Kingston, N.Y., stressed educating the community in his response to our contest.

"For the past 10 years the bank has been honoring the top students from all of the high schools in our area with a dinner at a local country club.'' Their parents are also invited, and the bank honors a Teacher of the Year.

"In addition to the scholarship dinner, in the past 12months we have had several business and community education forums. Just this past week the bank sponsored a Y2K business breakfast. The speakers were from the FDIC and the New York Banking Department. We received great media coverage, and the cost for the 100 attendees was about $1,000.

"The bank also hosts several tax nights, where a member of our Tax Preparation Department will speak on the new tax laws and answer questions ... about tax preparation. We also regularly hold (seminars) explaining the mortgage process to prospective buyers.

"Several years ago, a local nonprofit had a government grant of $200,000 for mortgage down payments to give away. When they came to us for advertising money, I suggested that instead of spending the money on ads let's have a "Realtors Breakfast" and inform the Realtors and public about these funds. Well, the breakfast was a great success; over 100 Realtors attended, and the media loved it. Our story reached the intended audience, and within one month the organization had sent out over 260 applications and had received back 125 completed applications."

Our winner is Charles Copeland, senior vice president of First National Bank of Griffin, Ga. He writes: "For the past 16 years we have hosted, at our local high school, the First National Bank Outstanding Student Banquet.

"We host a dinner and speaker recognizing the juniors and seniors who have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, and on the following morning we host a breakfast for the freshmen and sophomores who have achieved the same level of academic accomplishment.

"The dinner includes a speaker, usually of some renown, and the presentation of a framed certificate documenting the accomplishment. As the certificates are presented by our president and local school superintendent, each student is also given a letter of commendation signed by the president and redeemable at any of our branches for $10 credit in opening or adding to an FNB checking or savings account.

"Yes, we do open many accounts each year following this event, and today some of our most loyal depositors are some of those who started their account 16 years ago with a modest opening deposit of $10."

Schmidlap National welcomes you, president Copeland.

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