|Let's try this.....no, this... how about...yes, yes a mini-city!|
I have heard that McDonnel Elementary here in Laredo, has a similar "community" theme in place. I believe the school has given itself the nickname (ready?) McDonnelville. I think this just started recently. However, the McAllen experiment with this concept has supposedly been going on for 14 years already.
From the McAllen Monitor
McALLEN — An inconspicuous traffic sign on the lawn of Sam Houston Elementary School welcomes visitors to Houstonville, a student-run civilization that has evolved over the past 14 years. Inside, a pretend yet bustling International Bank of Commerce chain serves a patient line of kindergartners to fifth-graders holding fake cash and withdrawal slips.
"When the customers come in, we have to count the money and learn how to count and save the money," said fourth-grade IBC employee Evelyn Tamez.
She and her peers set up shop every Thursday and Friday during Houstonville’s "Market Days," a busy portion of the week not easily misinterpreted as a waste of class time.
With an unexpected eloquence, Tamez explained the importance of a bank account and why her job is important. "I kind of know more about saving money than some adults, and my mom asks me questions about how banks work," she said. "A bank helps you pay your taxes, buy what you want. … We are important."
Around the corner, a mini H.E.B. treated customers who had just left IBC with an assortment of toys and school supplies. Manager Maribel Hernandez said she now knows what real-world store managers do every day. "Being a general manager means helping others all the time with what they need to get," said fourth-grader Hernandez, pointing to a list of Houstonville’s targeted "life skills" on the wall. "I know compassion, cooperation, responsibility … all of them, really."
Charged with their own particular job, every child at Sam Houston displayed the same precociousness as Hernandez. They display a mature understanding of taxes, payrolls, utility bills and lessons of adult life most children won’t encounter until high school or later, said Principal and Houstonville CEO D. Loya Thomas.
"Our school serves some of the highest socioeconomically disadvantaged students," she said. "We don’t water down a single thing, and my students eagerly grasp what it means to be a full citizen."