Biztown takes lessons out of the classroom

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The enthusiastic group from Anthem School heard from their mayor and then they started running the town.
 
“I'm the CFO of Building Arizona,” Charlotte Palenque told 3TV proudly.
 
“I've been signing the checks and stuff,” said Josie O’Connor.
 
“I'm the chief executive officer,” announced Marcus Andrews.
 
This is Junior Achievement's Biztown where 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds call the shots.

Before the students arrived at the indoor town, they took 15 hours of lessons in school about finance and business. And they interviewed for their jobs.
 
“We all had a speech,” said Josie, who was elected mayor. “I had mine memorized and nobody else did. After that, we all voted.”
 
“Sometimes I take some bills over to the other companies if the person who takes the bills over cannot do that,” Marcus explained about his CEO position. “I also make sure everything here is running smooth.”
 
“I really learned it’s not that easy to have a job every single day,” Charlotte said of her CFO job. “I get bills like every second.”
 
Joyce Richards is the president of Junior Achievement of Arizona. She said Biztown takes the classroom lessons and makes the students use them. And they often learn something about themselves.
 
“What their skills are, how they can determine their success for their lives,” Richards explained. "Begin thinking about, 'What do I want to be when I grow up?' ”
 
The students sell goods and services. Employees are able to spend a paycheck. The goal at the end of the day is to have a successful business.
 
“This is the No. 1 field trip,” said teacher Kimberly Erath. “Everybody wants to go. The teachers want to go. The parents want to go. Science fair is at the end of the month ... and this is absolutely No. 1.”
 
And in the end, Josie would rather be a scientist than mayor.
 
“I've learned that it is very hard and stressful,” she said.
 
But Marcus might want to be a CEO. Someday.
 
“Our teacher said that we would be very tired after this,” he said. “I'm already a little tired.”
 
This program is very popular, and Junior Achievement is looking for more schools with which to partner.  But the limiting factors are always money and business volunteers who help teach the classroom lessons.
 
If you want more information, you can find it here: www.jaaz.org