PITTSBURG — Tucker Akins suited up and went to work as an officer alongside his dad, Rusty Akins, Friday morning.

Together, the two helped keep the law in the community of Just Imagine, Kansas, which came to life in the Lakeside Elementary Auditorium courtesy of fourth-grade students.

Tucker said it was a bit tough to crack down on his classmates for crimes such as running, walking backward or leaving shoes untied, but that otherwise he enjoyed his day of learning about commerce and how a community runs.

This is the second day that the fourth-grade teachers at Lakeside Elementary have brought Just Imagine to life on Jan. 29, but the idea goes back much further than last year.

Fourth-grade teacher Babs Tims said she and Joan Barbieri originally wrote the curriculum years ago and put the project on with the help of Pittsburg State University’s Students In Free Enterprise group (now Enactus).

“We did it for a while, just she and I, and eventually other people heard about it,” Tims said, adding that the project enjoyed a heyday for several years, but eventually did not align with the curriculum. “Last year, when we started doing the new Kansas standards for social studies, I though this has to come back.”

Barbieri has sense retired from teaching, but said the return of the event draws her back each year.

“I come when she does this,” she said. “I love working with the kids.”

Barbieri was one of a number of community volunteers who visited to help the students learn about their professions.

Brad Snow, with Watco Companies and the All Aboard Foundation, said he has worked with students on customer service.

“We think they’re learning what we do every day as far as taking care of the customers,” Snow said.

“It’s important for the kids to get to understand what businesses do.”

Pittsburg Post Master Bob Beasley said public service also was a big theme for the student letter carriers.

“Something like this is more or less how to deal with the public,” he said. “These kids take such pride in it.”

The day also provided an opportunity for the students to put some of their academic skills to the test.

Cole Niederklein, president of Arvest Bank, which was represented along with Labette Bank, said he and his staff had to learn to prepare for a rush each session as community members cashed their paychecks.

“The toughest part was helping the workers give the money,” Neiderklein said. “I like dealing with money and math.”

Under the supervision of the pros, though, the students rose to the challenge.

“I’m kind of giving pointers,” said Joel Jarrett, who coached disc jockey Oliver McCabe as he ran Classic Rock 99.1. “Oliver seems to have a really idea how to get his voice out there.”

— Sarah Gooding is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at sgooding@morningsun.net.