PORT ISABEL — Students at Garriga and Derry elementary schools in Port Isabel inaugurated the first Minitropolis communities in the Laguna Madre area Wednesday morning, opening school stores to go with student banks that reward good savings habits and good citizenship.

The Minitropolis is a learning community pioneered by IBC Bank-Brownsville to promote financial literacy and good citizenship.

With guidance from the bank, Garriga and Derry students and teachers set up IBC Banks at their schools as the lead institution in a community where the students will learn how to manage money earned for good attendance, good behavior and other achievements.

“It’s a collaboration between the public and private sectors,” said Al Villarreal, IBC Bank-Brownsville CEO and president. “These fourth and fifth-grade students are the future leaders of our community. It’s our responsibility to mentor them and educate them on how to become good citizens and leaders.”

Students elected bank presidents and vice presidents, store managers, tellers, security guards and other personnel to mirror adult counterparts at IBC banks.

“Tarponville” communities at the two schools opened to considerable fanfare with ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday morning, Point Isabel Superintendent Teri Alarcon said.

“You could feel the excitement,” she said. “This is the first time we have ever had anything like this. Of course, our officers had already met with actual IBC personnel … so as the bank officers greeted people, everyone saw the IBC banner and the IBC bee. There were cupcakes for everybody. The students were super excited and eager to start banking every Friday.”

Students will earn Tarpon bucks for good attendance, good grades and other good behavior. At the same time teachers can take them away for bad behavior, Grayson Estes, the Tarpon bank president at Garriga, said.

“When they get caught doing something good they can earn money for that, too,” Alarcon said. “They can spend the money or save it for something bigger later on. … We’re thrilled with the partnership and the $1,000 donation,” she said.

Previously, IBC has helped start Minitropolis communities at Hudson and Del Castillo elementary schools, Episcopal Day School and Kenmont Montessori School in Brownsville.