PITTSBURG — Welcome to Just Imagine, Kansas, a city governed and run by Lakeside Elementary fourth graders.
The city has its own post office, police station, flower shop, restaurants, news media and a medical center — just like any other city.
On Tuesday — Kansas’ 158th birthday — the students opened their city to the public which includes the students, parents and the owners, managers and representatives of the businesses or organizations booth represents.
According to Lakeside Principal Rhonda White, the project aligns with the district's and the state's vision, mission and goals of preparing students for career and college readiness.
"It is an amazing project that encompasses math, science, reading, writing, working collaboratively, problem-solving and understanding our community and how we, individually, fit in and contribute positively," White said.
The program was created in 1997 by retired USD 250 teacher Joan Barbieri and Lakeside Fourth Grade Teacher Babs Tims as a project with Pittsburg State University’s Free Enterprise club, now known as Enactus.
The event had many names over the years, including “Just Imagine, World,” which linked international students to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The event was also hosted in the Meadowbrook Mall, now at Lakeside.
One Pittsburg Community Schools alumn Melissa Weed, who now works for Bright Futures USA as an affiliate and customer relations, came to Tuesday’s event over 15 years later. As a bank president in the “Just Imagine City” program, it is the most memorable event from fourth grade she said.
“I loved it,” she said. “I learned how to write checks at ‘Just Imagine City’.”
Now as a Bright Futures representative, she has encouraged Lakeside to be part of presentation for her organization so that the program could be spread to other schools across the area, Kansas and the United States, Weed said.
“It’s an amazing project for kids and parents,” she said.
The students researched their business which they all applied for before winter break, Lakeside Fourth Grade Teacher Babs Tims said.