A couple of weeks ago, Jenna came home with a form for parents interested in volunteering for an upcoming field trip. She begged me to please fill it out and I did. The next morning, after returning home from leaving her at school, I thought better of it. The volunteers needed to be downtown at 8:15. Even if we caught an earlier bus, I wouldn’t be able to get downtown at the allotted time.
At first I tried to make arrangements to car pool with another student in her class. But that didn’t pan out, and we actually ended up having Roland drop us off at her school at 6:30 in the morning, but I had to leave for the bus stop while it was still dark. I felt bad about leaving her. I felt worse when I arrived and discovered that there appeared to be more children than adults. I should have taken Jenna downtown with me – but she wanted to go to school first.
As it turned out, I think I could have taken Jenna on our regular route and arrived minutes before the class did and still felt as prepared as I had having arrived an hour before the class so that I could receive “training”. I don’t think I was adequately trained until an hour after the students arrived. I think the minimum amount of volunteers needed is 20. I don't even think we had 16.
JA City and Biztown are programs designed to help students experience real life. In this case it was fifth graders given the opportunity to run businesses and balance checkbooks and make purchases. It was our job as volunteers to see that they were doing it correctly.
Fortunately, Linda, who was assigned to be CEO of Alphagraphics (where I was assigned to assist) took charge and really tackled her assignment. The two who were assigned to be salesman failed in listening skills and tried to tackle raising money themselves rather than working as a team.
Jenna had been assigned as a Chief Financial Officer, which gave her the experience of cutting checks for paying bills and printing employee paychecks. The CFO on my team was absent and another girl was pulled out of one store and placed in ours. She wasn’t given a choice in the matter and the change had been quite stressful for her. I credit our CEO for taking our newly positioned didn’t-want-to-be CFO under her wing and actually changing Kelli’s tears into smiles and enjoyment.
In addition to the banks and business of product, the JA city also had a mayor (one of Jenna’s classmates) and a city council. There were screens on every wall to watch broadcast news and advertisement (also represented by the students. Even the camera crew were 5th grade students)
I know I’m not getting out all the words I need to explain this program accurately and here are a couple of videos that may give my reader more insight. This one also a cartoon map of the city – a rough estimate anyway.
Jenna and I had not gone downtown together, but we got permission for me to take her directly home instead of having to return to the school. Good thing. I would have not made it to the school when the bell rang to dismiss.
I think it’s an awesome thing that this program exists and that children are given the opportunity to experience a small piece of adulthood – or responsibility. Some actually not pleasant, unfortunately.
My poor Jenna could shop at the cash only store (there was only one) but had to hurry as she had spent most of her break in line at the bank. The deposit was always less than eight dollars and the most cash they could keep was 2.00 – the only amount she could spend as her account was somehow screwed up showing a zero balance – which was actually not the case, as she hadn’t spent anything. Unfortunately there are many adults who have to deal with that in real life.
I think overall it was a good experience for all involved, but it’s not something I wish to do again. I am happy for it’s existence however. I think it’s a neat program. I just personally don’t wish to do it again.
Neither one of us was able to get an ID card that was on promotion at Alphagraphic (the business where I had been assigned) and so I came home and made my own. I actually like mine better.