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Dawson County middle schoolers learn key life skills
jr achievement
Students wait in line to make a purchase at the BizTown RaceTrac Sept. 17. - photo by Joshua Demarest

Students from Dawson County Middle School attended the Junior Achievement BizTown last Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 16-17. The program allows sixth graders the opportunity to participate in a functioning economic system, complete with stores, banks, payroll, restaurants, police officers, and a mayor — all of which are run by the kids.

According to the Junior Achievement website, “JA BizTown creates an unmatched experience where sixth grade students are able to interact within a simulated economy and take on the challenge of fueling a business. Here, students not only discover the intricacies of being a professional and member of the community, but also discover the abundance of opportunities available within their city.”

At the beginning of the day, one student is sworn in as mayor, who in turns swears in the group of students as citizens for the day. The kids then move to the various businesses they will be running and meet their community mentors – business leaders from the surrounding area who will help guide them in thinking critically about business decisions that come up through the day.

Some of the businesses located in JA BizTown include Georgia State University, RaceTrac, Delta, and Zaxby’s.

Once they were at their businesses, the kids took over. Students were given job titles like CEO, CFO, or CMO or assigned to business to business sales, B2B, or business to consumer sales, B2C, teams. The CEOs applied for business loans and led team meetings, the CFOs set up payroll, and the students all received their personal debit cards. They then attended a training session that taught them the basics of B2B or B2C sales and how to work the computer systems.

From there, it was time to work. Students took turns shopping and working. The CMOs were tasked with coming up with an effective marketing strategy to bring in business. The CFOs were tasked with directing their B2B teams to collect on invoices from other companies.

There was a speed limit (of running) that was strictly enforced by the public safety officers, and shoppers caught shopping when they should have been working were fined. Even the teachers could be fined for loitering if they were hovering too much.

All in all, the students that participated were taught how to engage as an adult. They were responsible for their own ideas, whether successful or not. They had to balance their checkbooks, enroll in direct deposit, understand tax withholdings, transfer money to savings, and decide if they wanted to vote.

They were, for one day at least, adults.