(Article first published on Oct. 30, 2012.)
As the long political campaign season comes to a close in the next week, it is nice to see politicians reaching across the aisle to benefit students. Tom Russell, president of Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania, shared a story about how Junior Achievement was recently on the mind of the President of the United States.
Congressman Todd Platts, a Republican representing Pennsylvania’s 19th congressional district, was recently recognized for his service on his local JA board of directors. In Rep. Platts’ acceptance remarks, he told a story about his oldest son, T.J., and his involvement with JA BizTown®. Following in his father’s political footsteps, T.J. decided to run for mayor of JA BizTown.
JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a fully-interactive, simulated town facility. Students like T.J. operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor of JA BizTown. The program helps students connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world.
The morning of T.J.’s election, Rep. Platts was at a bill signing at the White House. While chatting with one of President Obama’s staff members, he commented that he was “anxious about the election being held that day.” Of course, it was not an official election day, so the staff member looked perplexed. Rep. Platts proceeded to explain how his son, T.J., was running for mayor of JA BizTown.
A while later, when Rep. Platts was in a meeting with President Obama, the President asked the Congressman to relay his best wishes to T.J. The staff member had told the President about T.J.’s election. Two weeks later, Rep. Platts returned to the White House for another meeting, and during one of the breaks, President Obama asked who had won the election. The Congressman explained that T.J. had come in second and was the deputy mayor during their day at JA BizTown. The President told Rep. Platts to tell T.J. that he didn’t win his first campaign either.
Later that day, the Congressman introduced his family to President Obama. As T.J. shook the President’s hand, President Obama told T.J. to stay determined and to follow his dreams.