By Marsha Bartulec – Ameritowne, Colorado …Fifth and sixth graders from four Front Range schools–Brighton Adventist Academy, HMS Richards school, Mile High Academy, and Vista Ridge Academy– united on March 31 to run a town for a day.
The students participated in Young Ameritowne, a hands-on educational experience in free enterprise while learning about the basics of banking, economics, and citizenship. Ameritowne is a four-hour event where students physically apply concepts they have learned as they step into roles as town citizens.
The journey to Ameritowne began with teachers covering 25 lessons in basic economics, banking, government, money management, ethics, and philanthropy. All citizens (students) fill out applications and are interviewed for the jobs of their choice. Citizens running for mayor and/or judge must submit a written speech. The candidate with the most votes from other citizens wins.
A few days before the Ameritowne event, students met on the campus of Vista Ridge Academy for training. They were divided into training groups–quality control, management, sales, accounting, and media. Student citizens finished the training by meeting in their business groups, with managers leading team meetings. Reflecting on the training, HMS Richards student Conner said, “It really prepared me for Ameritowne on Thursday.”
Upon arrival at Ameritowne, the citizens were given an orientation about the day’s expectations. Then they went to their shops to prepare for the town to open. All citizens then met in the town square for opening ceremonies. The town hall workers, which included the mayor, judge, and police officers, were introduced by reporters and were sworn in. The mayor gave a speech and opened the town by cutting the ribbon. Once at work, citizens began working as producers, earned a paycheck, and spent their breaks as consumers purchasing goods and services from the businesses.
“One of the lessons students learned was the importance of teamwork,” said Natalie, an HMS Richards student. “When we work together, we can have success! I learned this by having an awesome team.”
Vista Ridge Academy student Luke, learned what it’s like to have a job, “I had fun, but you learn that you don’t always get along with your co-workers. There are ups and downs with a job.”
For others, staying out of trouble was the most important lesson. “My favorite part was not getting arrested,” a student from Brighton Adventist Academy shared.
After leaving Ameritowne, students evaluated the success of their day. Each business group received a bank balance statement to see if they made a profit. They also assessed their spending habits and the choices they made in Ameritowne. Reflecting on the experience, HMS Richards student Suelita has advice, “Learn now; don’t wait until later.”
Sandy Hodgson, Vista Ridge Academy principal, said, “The opportunity to collaborate with sister schools in this real-world learning is amazing. Our students were able to practice skills that will help them be better citizens now and in the future.”
Vista Ridge Academy plans to continue coordinating this event for local Adventist schools biannually.
–Marsha Bartulec is vice-principal for administration at Vista Ridge Academy; photos supplied