The Jim Thorpe National Bank (JTNB) recently hosted 12 area school students who were winners in the bank's 14th Annual Community Banking Essay Contest.

The theme of this year's essay contest was "Bullying is cruel and insensitive and should not be tolerated. How can you, as an individual, address this unacceptable behavior?"

There were 361 entries received and all of them were judged by independent judges not associated with the bank.

This year's overall winner of the essay contest and "CEO for the day" was Wyatt Easterly, a 10th grade student at Lehighton Area School District.

In addition to cash prizes and framed documents honoring their achievement, essay contest winners from Jim Thorpe, Lehighton, and Marian Catholic were also treated to a tour of the main office of the Jim Thorpe National Bank on Broadway in Jim Thorpe.

Following their visit to the bank, they all enjoyed a meal, courtesy of JTNB, on the deck at Molly Maguires Pub & Steakhouse.

The Jim Thorpe National Bank hosted the 12 student winners in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers' celebration across the state.

While speaking to the essay winners, Craig Zurn, JTNB president and CEO, talked about the importance of local community banks to the communities that they serve.

Community banks are independent, locally owned institutions that operate differently from larger, regional financial institutions and are run by local people.

They do more than accept deposits and make loans, they provide personal attention to the needs of the citizens and towns in which they are located.

Decisions are made on the spot, so loan requests don't have to be sent to some distant home office.

The Jim Thorpe National Bank is the oldest community bank in Carbon County.