McALLEN – The accolades for the schools involved in The Minitropolis program, which offers students an opportunity first-hand knowledge how a community operates by employing them in several real-world positions, was the highlight of a partnership luncheon hosted by IBC Bank.

For example, take Karla Madrigal, a former Sam Houston elementary student who served as the president of IBC Bank in fourth grade and was Houstonville's mayor in fifth grade. Through the program Madrigal was able to secure the skills she needed to graduate from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with a bachelors and a masters in accounting. Now she is employed by a local firm.

Her success was a tribute to not only IBC Bank but also McAllen school district which implemented the program over 20 years ago at Sam Houston elementary.

Currently there are 12 active schools within the area with McAllen, Donna and IDEA school districts participating.

The program does not only help children learn about the process of managing a city, it also teaches the educators in charge several lessons as well.

Teresa Trdla learned first-hand from a student what the program meant to him with a recycling lesson.

A week into her post as principal at Fields Elementary a student noticed she had thrown her plastic water bottle in the trash can.

Boasting a newly found confidence because of the program her student removed the plastic water bottle from the trash can and tossed it into the recycling bin.

“In what was a shy and quiet student, he was now confident enough to tell me that it was someone's job to recycle the water bottle,” Trdla said.

For IBC Bank President Adrian Villarreal the partnership between the schools and the bank serves as a great way to give back to the community.

“For us, we have always felt that it is our responsibility to be a community partner,” he said. “What better impact is there than partnering up with people that have the same vision and the same passion to try and make a difference.”