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LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 30, 2017) — According to Merriam-Webster, "adulting" is to behave like an adult, specifically to do the things — often mundane — that an adult is expected to do.
Opening a savings account, paying taxes, applying for a job — all of these skills are critically important to mastering "adulting" and being a productive member of society. Fifth graders in Fayette County and surrounding school districts are learning the importance of financial literacy, community economics, work readiness and business management earlier than most.
In partnership with Fayette County Public Schools, Junior Achievement (JA) of the Bluegrass recently transformed nearly 13,000 square feet — in a facility previously known as Linlee Elementary School — into a state-of-the-art facility where students from throughout Central Kentucky will experience a living lesson in economics, community and financial literacy. The facility is known as JA BizTown.
Following a series of classroom lessons, students get to experience a day in a fully-interactive simulated town with operating businesses such as a bank, city hall, utilities center, television station and — at JA BizTown in Lexington — an institution of higher education.
In addition to businesses such as Keeneland, Kentucky Utilities and Toyota, the University of Kentucky occupies a storefront in BizTown. Students who visit UK in BizTown are given the opportunity to earn their degree and pay their tuition.
UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and JA of the Bluegrass board member Eric N. Monday said JA BizTown prepares students for success across a range of experiences.
"Specifically related to higher education, we know that financial knowledge and financial literacy are crucial issues that often impact whether students return to the university for a new semester, and whether they ultimately graduate. This program is preparing students to succeed in college and beyond," Monday said.
UK senior Jessica Bowman, in the College of Social Work, is the team leader at BizTown. She leads volunteers and students throughout the different phases of the day. Bowman said UK's role at BizTown is valuable.
"The students get to learn about UK and the importance of higher education. We really try to implement the concepts of paying tuition, working hard and getting a diploma," Bowman said.
Leighton Harris, a fifth grader at Athens-Chilesburg Elementary, held the job of mayor when his class visited BizTown. Harris said his role was to keep the community safe and ensure that businesses are operating efficiently.
"I think we will all learn how hard it is for adults to do all their jobs and how to keep a community safe and running smoothly," Harris said.