By Maggie Willis
A ten-year-old girl in a suit coat and skirt brushes past her friends, on a mission as she power-walks to the bank to open a savings account, while a near-by student bemoans that he “bounced a check.” Beneath a bright red City Hall, the mayor plays with his walrus moustache in top hat and tails, greeting the citizens who elected him. One tiny reporter says that he can’t take a break—he has a deadline. Another earnestly interviews her fellow fifth graders, getting the inside scoop on how they’ll be paying off their business loans.
Seem strange? Not at Junior Achievement BizTown (JA BizTown).
Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JACO) program has been a part of the Columbus community since 1950, hosting educational events for K-12 students designed to give them the confidence and inspiration they need to succeed in a global business economy. One of JACO’s capstone programs is JA BizTown: a four week curriculum that educates fourth to sixth graders in the basic tenets of economics and citizenship in the classroom. In it, the students cover a variety of business skills, including the basics of balancing a checkbook, the importance of their rights and responsibilities as citizens and designing a business plan. The curriculum culminates in the day trip to the model town, JA BizTown, where, according to JA BizTown director Pete Crozier, the children “run the world for a day,” and it becomes very clear how all the skills they’ve learned are relevant to real life.
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