Students learn about adulthood at BizTown

Ava Muncie said she’s not planning on taking Mayor Ed Burtner’s job anytime soon.

“I even feel bad for him,” she said.

Muncie, a fourth-grader at Justice Elementary School, was the mayor of BizTown for a day, and while it was fun, being mayor came with its share of stress and headaches.

“There were some times where it was rough,” Muncie said. “And other times where it was fun.”

More than 90 Justice fourth graders traveled to Lexington May 3 to attend the Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass annual BizTown event.

According to its website, JA BizTown is a self-contained economic education program that provides a hands-on learning experience for upper elementary school students.

Before their visit to JA BizTown, Justice students spent 11 hours in the classroom, studying financial education objectives that teach them about an economy, writing checks, keeping a checkbook register, applying for a job and working in groups.

These educational concepts are then put into action as the students spend one school day at the JA BizTown facility.

During their business day, students receive a job assignment in one of the businesses at JA BizTown.

“I felt like an actual adult,” Muncie said. “… And I learned being an adult is going to be very hard.”

Muncie was elected the Mayor of JA BizTown after being nominated by teachers and winning an election by her peers, which Muncie said she only thinks she won because she promised to wear a suit if she did.

Other students had the opportunity to apply for positions such as the president of Forcht Bank, the CFO at UPS, a doctor at UK Healthcare, the quality control manager at Toyota, the admissions officer for UK, the meter reader at Kentucky Utilities, the nurse at KentuckyOne Health, the on-air personality for LEX 18 or the disc jockey for the radio station.

Students took breaks, received paychecks and had the opportunity to be consumers by making purchases in one of the business-sponsored storefronts. Muncie said she bought a coloring book.

Justice Counselor Kimberly White said it was Justice’s first year going and it was BizTown’s first year allowing fourth-grade students as it usually only invites fifth-graders to participate.

Principal Susan Hillman said BizTown paired perfectly with Justice’s leadership program.

“They had to apply for jobs, which goes beautifully along with our leadership because they have a job at school and they have to fill out job applications and be interviewed for it,” Hillman said.

Muncie agreed. She said the seven habits she learned at school helped prepare her for her role as mayor.

As mayor, Muncie said not every student liked what she was doing, so she had to learn how to deal with people while also being in charge. While mayor, she gave a few speeches, completed a census report and more. She carried around a checkbook, a debit card and a tablet.

“My favorite part was my lunch break,” she said. “We had Chick-fil-A.”

According to its website, JA BizTown hopes to help students develop basic economic concepts, learn the relationship between businesses and consumers, use quality concepts in consumer planning, develop a basic understanding of checking and savings accounts, develop a simple decision-making process, work together to satisfy customer’s expectations and introduce students to unique employment opportunities.

Now that the experience is over, Muncie said she’s a more empathetic and understanding of what adults go through. And for her, growing up can wait.

“It was a drastic change going from being a kid to being an adult,” she said. “… I’m going to enjoy being a kid as long as I can.