Western Washington Students Learn Life Skills

“I don’t have that kind of money — I just spent $2!” one fifth-grade student proclaimed as he tried to balance a budget at City Hall. But this wasn’t just any City Hall.

As you walk into Auburn Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown in Auburn, Wash., you will find yourself transported to a small town clustered together in a courtyard with a City Hall and branded businesses. This small town built by Junior Achievement is a way for students to learn about the American enterprise system.

Harold Richards, a teacher at Buena Vista Seventh-day Adventist School in Auburn, heard through his wife about the JA program and its many successful learning encounters and wondered, “What would it take to make a town?” Richards learned the specifics and began the process this year of reaching out to other schools that would like the opportunity to join him in an educational experience.

More than 100 fifth- and sixth-grade students from Northwest Christian School (NWS), Buena Vista Seventh-day Adventist School (BVSDA), Orcas Christian School and Olympia Christian School filled Auburn JA Biztown as they bustled from business-to-business, working together to collect checks, market their businesses and learn skills essential in the real world.

“As a parent, I value that my child has the opportunity to learn about balancing a checkbook and working as a team,” says Amber Nelson, BVSDA teacher and parent. “It’s nice that students get to experience with different professions too.”

The students had to prepare several weeks in advance, learning different kinds of currency, balancing money and checkbooks, and understanding the different jobs, pay levels and the value of an education. When the day arrived to put their skills to the test, students put their kid-sized business suits on and took up their given job for the day.

“It feels good and stressful to be a mayor,” says Natalie Jones, NWC fifth-grade student, who was made mayor of Auburn JA BizTown for the day.

Students became elected officials, CEOs, CFOs, attorneys, news anchors, business marketers and more. Like real life, lessons were learned throughout the morning as they put their studying to the test. At the end of the day, students received a real check of how much they made for the day, including deductions for taxes and fees.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students,” says Stacy Kemmerer, Orcas Christian School teacher. “The skills they learned are lifelong lessons, and it’s amazing what the students do during the Junior Achievement program.”

June 05, 2018 / Washington Conference
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