Community Spirit: Clinton Savings Bank

Assabet Valley staff and students stand with Clinton Savings Bank’s marketing team. From left to right: Superintendent Ernie Houle; instructors Deb Harper and William May; students Gabe Morris, John Zouharis and Leo Zolli; bank marketing team staff Ellen McGovern, Kristin Farraj and Christal Brown; and instructor Dennis Whitney.

A video project that showcases Clinton Savings Bank’s commitment to its community also helped local high school students build their skills.

By Jolene Johnson

High school students might not immediately spring to mind as natural service providers for your community bank. But that’s exactly who Clinton Savings Bank turned to when it needed help making a video.

The $561 million-asset Clinton, Mass., community bank wanted to produce a short video to highlight its volunteer involvement with local nonprofit organizations. It planned to show the video at its annual Corporator Meeting.

Chief marketing officer and senior vice president Ellen J. McGovern, AVP and senior marketing officer Kristin Farraj, and marketing coordinator Christal Brown were given this task. They had plenty of video footage and photos from volunteer events. But now, they needed to put it all together in a slick package.

“We had so much information that needed to be streamlined to tell our story,” McGovern says. “It’s certainly not our forte to put together a whole video.”

They decided to outsource the project and chose a group of local high school students at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. The school helps students hone marketable skills that prepare them for the workforce once they graduate.

The Clinton Savings Bank team made the right choice. “[The students] were instrumental in showcasing [the bank] and all of our efforts in the community,” McGovern says.

Go-to tech school
The two institutions have history together. In 2013, Clinton Savings Bank employees teamed up with Assabet Valley for a smaller video project with great results. “I was so impressed with the amount of talent over there at the school, and certainly their instructor [of design and visual communications] of 25 years, Deb Harper,” McGovern says. “The way she engages the students over there … is just wonderful.”

Before embarking on the video project, the community bank’s marketing team presented the plan to teachers and students in the school’s design and visual communications department. Then, Harper and a team of teachers sifted through student candidates, assessing their experience and grades. In the end, they chose to work with Gabe Morris, John Zouharis and Leo Zolli.

Starting from a storyboard the bank’s marketing team created, the three students worked on an alternating schedule. One week they would focus on their school curriculum, and the next week they would work on the bank’s video project. Harper estimates the students spent 50 hours on the video. Over the course of the three-month project, the students also led monthly face-to-face meetings with bank employees to share their progress.

“[The students] were instrumental in showcasing [the bank] and all of our efforts in the community.” —Ellen McGovern, Clinton Savings Bank

Harper allowed her students a good amount of creative freedom. All she asked was that they defend their editing choices of certain clips. “They’d say, ‘I think this would be the best approach,’ and I’d say, ‘You’re going to have to talk about that, and you’re going to have to tell [the bank team] why.’”

The resulting four-minute video features bank employees volunteering with local nonprofits, including the Clinton Rotary Club, NEADS World Class Service Dogs and Keep Boylston Beautiful, among others.
Benefits for both

Harper is grateful to Clinton Savings Bank for offering her students a project with valuable takeaways.

“A lot of people will call [the school because] they want things done inexpensively,” she says. “They think that it’s going to be a great learning experience, but that’s not always the case. Some things might be a little too advanced. Some things might be too repetitive. So we’re just very grateful when something so nicely fits.”

Quick stat


Hours Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School students spent creating the video

During the Clinton Savings Bank video project, student producers built active listening skills, and learned how to present to a client and take feedback in a positive manner. They also added a professional-looking project to their portfolios.

Projects like this one also allow Harper to observe how her students work with a client and to gauge their readiness for a real-world job. It serves as a “testing ground for cooperative employment,” she explains. At the end of their junior year, students qualify for cooperative employment, where they spend one week attending classes and the next in on-the-job training with an employer in their field of study.

Students Morris, Zouharis and Zolli each received a $100 scholarship from Clinton Savings Bank. The community bank also made a $500 donation to Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School’s design and visual communications department, which used the donation to buy a Nikon D3400 DSLR camera. It’s just one more way students can keep up the good work.

Jolene Johnson is a writer in Minnesota.