by Kelly Reilly, Principal (and proud Biztown teacher)
Holy Trinity 4th & 5th grade students had the privilege to participate the school’s first JA Biztown simulation on March 29th. The Biztown experience stretches beyond the traditional curriculum and provides students with the opportunity to begin to understand and experience important life skills. The pre-training sessions led students through personal finance skills such as writing checks, balancing a checkbook, paying taxes and preventing identity theft. Business management lessons taught them about the process and costs of a business start up as well as setting selling prices, customer service and the benefits of teamwork. About halfway through the curriculum, students were able to apply for their preferred job at Biztown. Students interviewed at the “Biztown Job Center” (aka my office) and used their newly acquired skills of making eye contact, speaking clearly and of course, giving the perfect handshake. After the students were assigned their jobs, they began to work in their business teams to complete the final steps to prepare such as applying for a business loan and creating newspaper and radio ads. After six weeks of preparation, the students were, as one 4th grade student said, “on the edge of their seats” with anticipation.
The big day finally arrived and the 12 students were bursting with energy. Their excitement could not be contained as they quite literally bounced down the sidewalk to enter the Bill Poe Family Junior Achievement Center. Just when I thought there was no possible way they could be more excited, they entered Biztown and their eyes grew wide as they took in the awesome sights. They patiently waited through their training session and town meeting and then dashed off to their businesses to start the day. I could not have been more pleased to watch all that they had been working on come to life during the simulation. The CEOs expertly managed their employees and made important business decisions. The CFOs processed their employee payroll and paid the business expenses with an e-payment system. Customer service representatives greeted the students from other schools with a smile and our hard-working utility workers read the meters and changed out air filters. The students were then able to use their hard-earned paychecks to have fun on their breaks. They had the opportunity to purchase products such as sports memorabilia and slime or invest in stocks. They also could participate in experiences such as free health checkups and riding the virtual roller coaster at Busch Gardens.
At the end of a very busy day, the students were still grinning from ear to ear. One student shared they loved their breaks and getting to shop and experience the other business while another shared that they really learned time management skills because it was busy! Not only will they carry the skills they learned with them, but I’m confident that the memories from this day will remain with them for many years to come.