PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — In this castle, financial literacy is king, and students at John F. Kennedy High School are royalty. 

“Banking has really changed,” said Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer. “We wanted to change with it.”

Paterson Public Schools unveiled the ‘Castle 2.0,’ a new version of the JFK Knights’ in-school branch of the North Jersey Federal Credit Union. The upgraded branch now has an ATM and, for the first time, students who work there can help customers open new accounts. It’s an opportunity that many high schoolers of yesteryear could never cash in on.

“Unfortunately back then, many, many years ago, I don’t think it was thought of,” Lourdes Cortez, retired CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, said.

Business education teacher Edwin Hernandez explained why it’s important.

“Many bad choices and mistakes can be avoided if financial literacy skills and good money habits are established earlier on in life,” Hernandez said.

The Castle itself is nothing new. In fact, it opened up back in 2011 inside the high school. More than a decade later, it still serves as a hands-on way for students to learn about financial literacy, and in some cases, introduce them to a new career path.

“I didn’t really get to choose, it chose me,” Jenelis DeJesus, a JFK 2016 graduate who worked at the Castle, said. Now, she works for the Credit Union.

“It is helpful for [current students] because now they have more experience than we did,” DeJesus said. “It’s something they should really take forward and take advantage of.”

From savings to retirement accounts, students will have knowledge that’s priceless.

“I’d just tell them to stay encouraged and to continue to learn about financial literacy,” DeJesus said.