Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown kicked off the 2016-2017 school year on September 28th with Buckeye Valley Middle School. The 77 students that attended were the first to encounter a lot of fun changes to JA BizTown. Over the summer, JA BizTown added three new shops – a Cardinal Health Pharmacy store, Discover store, and a kiosk for Franklin University.
New shops don’t just mean a new look, they also mean new jobs and “life experiences” for JA BizTown citizens. Cardinal Health Pharmacy brought new positions such as a Pharmacist, Pharmacy Technician, and Marketing Director, along with the standard CEO and CFO positions required for every shop. Each job plays an important role to achieve the ultimate goal of paying off the business’s loan which is taken out from Huntington Bank at the beginning of the day. For example, the Pharmacist is responsible for assembling the first aid kits (which are later distributed by the Marketing Director), sorting inventory, and learning directions for the “prescriptions” they will be providing JA BizTown Citizens. The “prescriptions” and first aid kits bring in revenue to go towards paying off the loan. A “prescription” may be needed if a JA BizTown citizen receives a Life Happens card stating that they are ill or have an injury.
Life Happens cards are a new part of JA BizTown to help demonstrate the integration between business and life. Life Happens situations range from illnesses to furthering education. If a citizen receives a card stating that they are ill, they are instructed to go to the Blue Jackets Physician where they receive a prescription that is to be filled at the Cardinal Health Pharmacy. However, a citizen could receive a card directing them to further their education. At this point the student goes to JA BizTown’s new Franklin University kiosk.
The Franklin University Kiosk is run by a volunteer who guides the student through a career interest questionnaire to find out “what they should be when they grow up.” Options include careers in aviation, banking, teaching, and more. Students take a picture in front of a green screen and then have a picture of their “chosen career industry” placed behind them. The picture is printed on the back of a job certificate the student receives, describing the industry and possible career opportunities which the child takes home with them.
“Across the street” from Franklin University is Discover. This new store is JA BizTown’s premier online bank. The shop has a CEO, CFO, Customer Service Representative, Account Executive, and a Sales Manager to run business for a day. Discover provides all JA BizTown citizens with debit cards that allow for direct deposit capabilities – all shops accept cash, check, and debit allowing the student to choose which method they want to use.
JA BizTown will run 130 days this school year, an increase of 16 days from the 2015-2016 school year. JA BizTown, in general, serves fifth grade students; however, it can also encompass grades four and six depending on the school. The interactive simulation of JA BizTown itself takes about four and a half hours, but teachers go through 12 to 19 lessons in their classroom to prepare students for JA BizTown. By the end of the simulation, students should know how to make personal financial decisions and be able to connect their interests and passions to different careers. As Marzooq Nadeem, JA BizTown Mayor from Buckeye Valley Middle School, stated, “[JA BizTown] is one of the most effective ways [students] can learn about the real strategies of everyday life because it’s a hands-on experience.”
Marzooq’s entire speech is available to read here.