Extra credit

KAPAA — Daniel Hamada, principal of Kapaa High School, said it is not important how much students save. What is important, he said, is the practice.

Hamada delivered his remarks at the opening of the student-based Warrior Credit Union Wednesday in the school’s administration building.

The credit union is a branch of the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union and is the first of its type in the state, said Mel Chiba, KCFCU president.

“It is fitting that we are opening this Warrior Credit Union in Kapaa,” Chiba said. “On March 1, 1954, the charter for Kauai Community Federal Credit Union was signed with people who lived and worked in Kapaa.”

Hamada, an alumnus of Kapaa High School, said he realized during a graduation address that students were lacking in financial literacy.

“They know math, they know the sciences,” Hamada said. “But there was no financial literacy. There is a need to know how to handle themselves, financially.”

Bailey Bernabe, one of the Kapaa High School student leaders for Warrior Credit Union, said they did not know the difference between a bank and a credit union when they embarked on this venture.

The credit union, featuring two teller stations from the KCFCU Kapaa Branch, offers the workings of a real-world credit union.

“Some of the Kapaa students were complaining the stations were painted blue,” said Terri Kaniho of the KCFCU. “But these are the real teller stations we use and blue is the KCFCU colors. We may eventually get the school’s cages changed to green, but for now, they are the KCFCU colors.”

Bernabe said the students created the credit union’s logo and came up with the name after wrangling through trademark and other legal restrictions.

Kaniho said Kaleo Perez of KCFCU will be working at the Warrior Credit Union on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. KCFCU also has a part-time employee dedicated to this student-based branch.

Kapaa High School is also involved with the Junior Achievement program, which is another arm for teaching students financial literacy, Hamada said.

Initially, Kaniho said the branch on the Kapaa High School campus will be limited to the school’s students and staff. The goal is for the branch to eventually extend to Kapaa Elementary School.

“This branch opening is a solid basis of how students will learn how to handle themselves financially,” Hamada said.

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