ATM brings convenience for Westlake students

Sitting in third period class, starving and impatiently waiting for lunch, a student reaches into her cluttered backpack, searching in vain for a $1 bill, even 75 cents to buy a snack from the well-stocked Ninth Grade Center vending machines. Unfortunately, though, her desperate fingers find no cash.

“If only there was an ATM here at Westlake,” she thinks.

Fortunately for her and other students who find themselves short of cash at inopportune times, principal Dr. John Carter had the same thought. Dr. Carter said he got the idea for the machine from his former school in Chicago.

“My last school had an ATM, and it was a great convenience for students and teachers alike who needed cash on the spot,” Dr. Carter said. “And so since it was a convenience to offer, I was willing to support it. Mr. [Bill] Bechtol with the assistant superintendents of business negotiated the contract, and that’s how we got it. In the first week, there were 67 transactions, so it has benefitted people because they needed the cash.”

In addition to being beneficial to teachers and students, the ATM is also enormously helpful to parents. When parents are on campus to pay for yearbook senior ads or participation fees for extracurricular activities, they need not worry.

“It’s a convenience; [they don’t have] to run down the street to a bank,” Dr. Carter said.

Like any other vending machine, the school benefits from it financially.

“The money goes into the same fund that our percentage of vending goes, called the vending fund, which is used to buy certain things around the school,” Dr. Carter said. “For example, we just recently purchased another ping-pong table for the Ninth Grade Center, so we try to use the vending account to benefit students and clubs.”

Westlake is the first school to have an ATM in the Austin area, but undoubtedly it will set a trend.

“I love the ATM,” senior Hank Dickerson said. “It saves my life every time I’m hungry.”