Junior Achievement at Lebanon Road Elementary

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Friday wrapped up a whirlwind week for Lebanon Road Elementary School.  Over 40 volunteers from four area churches taught an educational curriculum called Junior Achievement to students in all grades.

Junior Achievement is an organization dedicated to inspiring and helping young people succeed when they grow up.  The program fosters work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills.  Students learned things like the difference between a need and a want, how to write out a check, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Each grade level had a specialized set of activities, games, and learning opportunities.  One of the program’s activities showed how making products on an assembly line was more efficient than making the products individually.

Students of Ms. Stokes formed small groups to play the “Piggy Bank Game,” where the third graders learned the concepts of making deposits and withdrawals and recording them on an account register.

In the third grade, students were taught that our city is a place where people work, play, spend money, and eat.  Cash, checks, credit cards, and loans are all ways that consumers can pay for goods and services.  The students acted as city planners for the day and reviewed zoning requirements for residential, business, and agricultural zones.  They also applied basic budgeting techniques to decide if they would rather pay taxes on a sports car or the economy model.

“I had third grade,” said Maxine Whetstone.  “We learned about how life works with regards to finances, and the kids were just great.”

In the fourth grade, students were taught that our region is a place where people can use area resources to make products or provide services that consumers can purchase.  Our natural resources provide business opportunities that are unique to our region of the country.  Students explored the challenges and rewards of becoming a business owner.

Ms. Pepin’s fifth grade class learned about valuable natural resources that can be found in our region, resources they might consider some day if they decide to start their own businesses. Students discussed how entrepreneurs like Tony Hawk, LeBron James, and even local Mint Hill residents have invested time, money, and energy into starting successful enterprises.

Fifth graders explored our nation and the concept of a free market.  Rob Mariucci who taught one of the classes said, “The fifth graders are wonderful.  They’re fun and smart, and all of them want to participate.  In our class, they learned that in this country they are free to get a job or start a small business with little government interference.  I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Volunteers came from all backgrounds to share their business experience with the students.  The volunteers came mostly from New Beginnings Church, Joy Christian Fellowship, Wilson Grove Baptist Church, and Encounter Prayer & Worship Center.  Some volunteers were retired business men and women who could speak firsthand on the world of business.   A few had been professional teachers but most were simply interested in sharing life skills with the students such as the importance of paying taxes and being careful with credit card debt.

Pastors McLean Faw, Luke Faw, and Rob Mariucci (l-r) worked alongside Minister Christina Lee and Pastor Sam Benton to organize the events of Kairos Week culminating in the Junior Achievement training day on Friday. Also pictured are Denise Faw as well as Emily Maurer who is with Junior Achievement Central Carolinas.

Junior Achievement was the final event in a week-long endeavor named Kairos Week.  “Kairos is Greek for time, and the time is now,” said Minister Christina Lee with New Beginnings.  She described the week as an opportunity to promote unity between students of all races in the wake of the riots that happened in nearby Charlotte last year.   After a meeting last September with a number of area churches, four of the churches worked together to bring this nationally known curriculum to all classes at the Lebanon Road Elementary School.  Other schools have had a grade or two go through the program, but to have all grade levels in the same school on the same day participate is a rare achievement of logistics and overall manpower.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure I could do it,” one volunteer admitted after the day’s events.  “But the kids in my class asked me when I could come back, and they gave me pictures that they had colored in class.”  Another volunteer, a retiree, said, “This is our next generation of doctors and lawyers and school administrators who will be great someday.  I hope I was able to encourage some of the greatness that’s going to come out of this school.”  For more information on how you can become involved with Junior Achievement, visit https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-carolinas.

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Candice DuVernois
Candice DuVernois works as a freelance writer while waiting expectantly for her book deal to come through. She wrote her first poem when she was only seven years old, and she hasn't stopped dabbling since. She enjoys writing articles in a lighthearted tone about the good people of Mint Hill, always striving to make them shine. She lives in Mint Hill with her husband, Dave, and her two dogs who she tries to get into the paper as often as possible (the dogs, not Dave). Matthew 22:37-39.