MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 25, 2013

Kids create town with help from JA volunteers

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Irving Elementary third-graders spent Friday morning building a city.

From sets of blueprints, each student assembled a different building out of paper.

“I’m learning about the city and building City Hall,” Brandon Van Natta said as he colored City Hall’s windows with a blue crayon.

Students then talked with each other and with their volunteer teacher to decide where in the city they should put their buildings.

Irving students in kindergarten through fifth grade learned about building cities, communities and nations Friday during JA In a Day, sponsored by Junior Achievement of Oklahoma. The organization seeks to teach students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.

About 34 members of Muskogee High School’s National Honor Society joined adult volunteers for the one-day event, said Brian Jackson, the development manager for Junior Achievement of Oklahoma. Adult volunteers came from Griffin Foods, Juanita Blair Insurance Agency and Connors State College, he said.

In the third-grade program, Our City, students learn about the “inner workings of how a city works,” Jackson said. “They learn how a city is organized, how different businesses go in different zones.”

Third-grade teacher Wanda Warrior watched her students work together to build the construction-paper city, which they named Cool Town. She said she saw the students learning about business, city government and more.

“They’re learning how to solve problems in the classroom,” Warrior said. “This will help them be able to learn about collaboration and team work.”

MHS volunteers who led the morning’s lesson said they learned some new things as well.

“I’m learning about how different businesses go in different zones,” said Michelle Shepherd, a senior at MHS.

Michelle spent her birthday helping the third-graders assemble their buildings and decide what to name their city. That’s just the way she wanted it.

“I’m a volunteering person,” she said. “I always volunteer. I do Girl Scouts and everything.”

MHS senior Aliyah Howard is in her second year as a volunteer with Junior Achievement.

“I love working with the kids,” she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.