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Students work hard at BizTown

Students, who work at City Hall, can take on the positions of mayor, town treasurer, environmental specialist, IRS agent, attorney and nonprofit workers in BizTown.

Students at Valley Crossing Community School got a taste of what their futures might look like last week when they participated in the Junior Achievements BizTown simulation program.

Students in grades 4-6 traveled to BizTown, in Maplewood, on Jan. 16.

During the BizTown simulation students were assigned a job and given a list of responsibilities as employees and citizens, worked with money and witnessed a community at work.

Simulated work environments included: a bank, a business service center, a café, City Hall and a newspaper.

Students worked in jobs ranging from CEOs to environmental specialists to mail carriers.

A total of 98 students participated in BizTown.

"It's an exciting way to teach economics," said Heather Bovee, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Valley Crossing. "The students are completely engaged."

Prepping for BizTown

Prior to going to BizTown, Valley Crossing students went through two months of Junior Achievements classroom curriculum in order to prepare for the simulation.

The first unit, "Community and Economy," covered such topics as: community, economy, enterprise, taxes and philanthropy.

The second unit, "Financial Literacy," covered financial institutions, checking accounts and savings accounts.

The third unit, "Work-Readiness," looked at: how to be professional, teamwork, job applications and interviews, elections and paychecks.

During this process, students crafted résumés, filled out job applications and went through a job interview process.

"We knew the students and we placed them where we thought best suited them," Bovee said. I truly believe that when they go through an actual job interview, they'll remember the process."

Unit four addressed business management. During the final week, students split into their business groups and started planning their businesses -- they designed their advertisements, they calculated business costs, employee salaries and learned how to apply for a loan.

Experiencing BizTown

The Junior Achievements curriculum culminates with the BizTown experience.

In addition to performing the responsibilities of whatever job they are assigned and running a business, the students must also work within some of the scenarios that they find themselves in. For example, there is an election they must vote on.

Additionally, students must deposit their checks, and then have the opportunity to go through and shop in the simulated environment. They are able to keep everything they purchase.

Bovee and sixth grade teacher Shannon Comisar said students learned a variety of skills throughout the BizTown simulation including teamwork, collaboration, communication, personal finance, professionalism, responsibility and time management.

"BizTown teaches them life skills," Comisar said. "We love watching the students take on the responsibilities and work on their own."

"They need to be prepared for the future," Bovee said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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