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IKM-Manning students run their own town in simulation

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For one day recently, the hostess at a restaurant, the CEO of a hospital and the teller at a bank all were 4-odd feet tall.

IKM-Manning fourth- and fifth-grade students recently attended a Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown event in Des Moines, a simulation that allows students to work and run a town together.

The trip was paid for by funds from the annual IKM-Manning Gala, which raises money for STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — initiatives at IKM-Manning.

“What an awesome experience,” said Emmalie Rasmussen, a volunteer who helped with the simulated town’s Financial Center. “It really taught the kids good work ethic, money management and the demands of a daily job. Thank you to the Gala for this wonderful opportunity.”

Citizens at JA BizTown “work in one of 14 businesses, manage their personal and business finances, develop and sell products, hold business meetings, pay taxes and donate to charity,” according to the JA BizTown website. They also have the opportunity to vote.

“I learned that not just one person can do everything they need to work with their group,” student Brittany Orellana said. “You have to work together to get stuff done. You have to work as a team.”

Student Logan Gordan added that he liked learning what types of paperwork his parents have to do, while student Shelby Heaton said she learned about all the work a CFO has to do and that “you need to make sure you pay off all the business loans.”

Student Andy Booth, who worked in publishing, was named Citizen of the Day by his peers, while the Snack Shack restaurant was named the Business of the Day.

“JA BizTown was an amazing experience for our kids,” said John Lorenzen, a volunteer who helped with the Distribution Center. “They learned real-life skills that can’t be taught from a textbook. It was fun to see them work as a community to complete their tasks.”

Prior to the simulation, IKM-Manning students worked in various classes to learn the skills they would need for the event — and later on in life.

In math, they learned to write checks and balance a checkbook. In science, they learned about 21st-century jobs and determined their own strengths and interests to fill out a job application for the simulation. In social studies, they learned about how a community works and the differences between needs and wants. In reading and language, they wrote business advertisements.

“It was a great experience to help the kids learn about financial literacy,” said Kristin Dreyer, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade math at IKM-Manning. “They learned to write checks, make out deposit slips and fill out a check register. They were able to put the skills they learned to use in their job and reflect on their financial choices. I don’t think you could get any closer to a real-life experience for fourth- and fifth-graders.”

Amy Rohe, who teaches fourth- and fifth-grade reading and fifth-grade language, added, “The students worked so hard to prepare for this field trip and were so excited to experience a day in the adult world. At the simulation, every single student was busy paying bills, completing their job tasks and participating in community activities.”

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