HOWELL – An ambitious group of fourth and fifth graders from Howell’s Newbury School were honored at the township’s April 4 council meeting for their roles in running a simulated town during a recent field trip.
Children who participated in the Junior Achievement “BizTown” program were students in GOAL (Great Opportunities for Advanced Learners) and Project ECG (Enrichment Cluster Groups), two of Howell Township’s gifted and talented programs.
This is the second year the school has participated in the BizTown program, which is supervised by Newbury School’s Vice Principal Ray Gredder. The organization that runs BizTown is Junior Achievement, a non-profit experimental learning curriculum that teaches students the importance of work readiness and entrepreneurship.
Before the actual town-running kicked off, students took part in 13 “life” lessons taught by Howell teachers Lindsey Dunphy and Lisa Oliver that focused on financial literacy. Students learned essential skills like balancing a checkbook, securing and paying off a loan with interest, philanthropy and creating a business plan.
Gredder said that after applying for jobs within the town and electing a mayor and town council, they traveled to Junior Achievement where they ran a simulated city for the day.
BizTown is a mini-city complete with 14 different store fronts, including a bank, credit union, radio station, city hall and more, where students were able to apply what they learned in the classroom to real life. Store fronts were assembled from donated corporate sponsors like Wal-Mart, UPS, Investors Bank, Chick-fil-A and ADP.
“Students are responsible for every part of the town running – from opening a town meeting, to voting and passing laws, to set up, clean up and financial planning for a successful business,” said Gredder. “They make and track their own money and put all of their learned skills to good use.”
The program also had the support of 14 parent volunteers, and of course the real Howell Town Council and Mayor Theresa Berger, who was on site at BizTown to swear in 5th grade Mayor Cassidy Brennan. Berger spoke highly of the BizTown program at the council meeting, saying that she was amazed at how well the children ran the town.
A video of this year’s BizTown field trip is currently being put together by Cicuta Films. A video of last year’s trip can be viewed at youtu.be/ahHvG28_Wqk.