Sandersville fifth-graders practice real life in JA BizTown

Sandersville fifth-graders practice real life in JA BizTown

Author: Tammy L. Lane

Sandersville Elementary fifth-graders walked in bigger shoes during their JA BizTown simulation day, when they took on various responsibilities of employees and consumers. For 11-year-old Porter Cranney, it was an opportunity to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as a CPA.

“It’s really fun, and you get to be the adult for a while,” he said of BizTown, adding, “You’ve got to get prepared for the future.”

Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass, which educates young people about basic financial matters, workforce readiness, business management, and entrepreneurship, opened BizTown this month in the former Linlee Elementary building off Georgetown Road. In partnership with Fayette County Public Schools, JA transformed 13,000 feet of space into an interactive mall where students can experience lessons in economics and community. The venture is staffed by JA members, business leaders, and volunteers, including parents.

Before the field trip, the Sandersville students were assigned jobs in a bank, health clinic, utility, restaurant, media company, retail outlet, or other business. Some were designated CEOs and CFOs, and 10-year-old Annie Arnold was sworn in as mayor at BizTown. “It’s really creative. They’ve put so much thought into it and made everything so detailed,” she said in praising the JA project. 

The initial storefront partners are Chick-fil-A, Forcht Bank, Keeneland, KentuckyOne Health, Kentucky Society of CPAs, Kentucky Utilities, Lexington Herald-Leader, the Center for Community Service (sponsored by the Mike Scanlon family), Toyota, UK HealthCare, University of Kentucky, UPS, and WLEX18.

The day began with the young CFOs preparing payroll and printing checks for their employees and everyone reviewing their job responsibilities. As the mini city came to life, store owners designed marketing campaigns and set prices, office workers delivered invoices, and students took turns as shoppers. They also revisited the JA lesson on debit vs. credit cards, filled out deposit slips, and opened savings accounts.

“It’s a cycle – once you’ve worked, you earn a paycheck. Then you put the check in the bank, and then you can spend money. These are great practical life skills,” said Sandersville teacher Grace Webb.

Webb and her colleagues had prepared their classes using JA’s 12-lesson curriculum and will follow up with a reflection on their day at BizTown.

“This gives us the ability to serve schools in a unique way,” said Ron Wigglesworth, JA’s senior education manager. “We want kids to understand the connection between education and careers and how the real world works because that’s what BizTown is all about.”