Students, families and dignitaries sat in anticipation, waiting patiently for the formalities to end and the red ribbon to be cut in celebration of the grand reopening of the Rio Linda High School (RLHS) branch of SAFE Credit Union.
“Prior to the end of last school year, I saw the potential plan for the remodel of Knights Armor. I was shown color swatches and a layout of how the new room was to look. In June, when I visited the room during the cosmetic overhaul, I was overwhelmed and amazed at how spectacular it looked,” said RLHS teacher LaRelle Woodall.
The project is valued at over $30,000. It involved completely revamping the classroom which serves as a fully functioning credit union branch as well as home to the Knights Armor Student Store including their apparel printing business. Under the direction of Vice President of Facilities Joel Stuckey, Vice President of Marketing Paul Hersek, and Assistant Vice President of Branch Operations Kathleen Harless, SAFE invested $10,000, and vendors Castlewood Cabinets, RD Electric and Vandemark Painting assisted by volunteering services and offering deep discounts.
Formerly with The Walt Disney Company, Hersek put his heart and soul into the remodel including seven or eight weekends of personal time. The knight-themed décor includes jousting lances, swords, helmets and shields. He even created The Firedrake, a dragon head mounted over the fire extinguisher.
When senior Ivory Vang saw the room, she beamed, “It is inspiring. The Knights Armor students have been working hard and deserve to have this kind of room.”
“We call this (business) Knights Armor, and the room really demonstrates our name and is catching other people’s attention,” said Junior Mai Her. “I could never imagine anything like this before.”
Nine years ago, SAFE installed an ATM that dispensed $5 bills at RLHS. The student-run SAFE branch followed and has grown, overseeing $55,000 in deposits this past school year.
SAFE Chief Executive Officer Henry Wirz believes it is vital that the business community supports our schools. He is also proud of the work done at RLHS.
“We’ve had a longtime relationship with the North Highlands, Rio Linda and Elverta area, said Wirz. “For us, the most important part of this community is the schools because that prepares the future leaders. I can’t think of a more important thing for us to do than to help perpetuate this community to do the things that are necessary to make this a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place to work and a great community.”
The RLHS branch of SAFE Credit Union and the Knights Armor Student Store are part of part of the Career and Technical Education program. Woodall guides the students who run these businesses, providing an opportunity for them to acquire job skills and enter postsecondary education or the job market with confidence and a sense of pride.
“I am so thankful for the new look and how it inspires the students to strive for better things,” said Woodall.