Todays Events - June 16, 2019

Upcoming Events

  • Jun 17th - Jun 18th, 2019 - BOE Regular Meeting
    6:30 PM - Administration Building

  • Jun 18th - Jun 18th, 2019 - SCA Exec Bd Mtg
    10 a.m. - CMS

  • Jun 20th - Jun 21st, 2019 - SHORTENED DAY FOR STUDENTS


posted: Fri, May 10th, 2019

Rylee Zabriskie receives her change after paying the tax man, Dominic Moscatello

Students experience the grownup world through Kidsville

Second-graders at CMS go to work every day. They collect paychecks at the end of the week, cash them at the bank, and even pay taxes.

This is Kidsville. Life here in the simulated community isn’t so different from the real world – and that’s exactly the point. The four week-long experience gives students a taste of daily adult life, teaching them about a variety of careers and providing insight into common tasks such as money management. It also provides the opportunity for kids to apply the math and language arts skills they’ve mastered, doing so in a setting that connects their learning to the world outside the classroom.

“It brings all their learning to life,” said teacher Ann Scotland.

Students are assigned different occupations each week. For 30-40 minutes per day, they engage in activities typically performed by their grownup counterparts. Kidsville teachers plan lessons and then go to teach younger students in other classes. Architects draw blueprints and build their structures. Mail carriers connect CMS staff members to each other by sorting and delivering mail throughout the building. Reporters go on interviews, work with photographers, write stories, and create newspapers for the Kidsville community. Each job has its own personality and skills to be used.

The excitement in Kidsville is palpable. The experience runs for just a small portion of the school day but delivers a powerful dose of energy and zest for learning.

“The enthusiasm that they come into school with is incredible,” said Mrs. Scotland of the second-graders. “They talk about Kidsville when they walk in every morning and they’re talking about it when they leave.”

Working for a living of course means getting paid. Kidsville bankers write out checks for each student every week. After the checks are issued, the workers then go to the bank to endorse them, cash them, and pay the 25% income tax. (Yup, even in second grade taxes are a cold reality.) The students can either save their money or shop at the Kidsville store where a variety of handmade crafts (made by Kidsville workers) and items donated by parents are available for purchase.

For some students, the experience of managing money has made them keenly aware of the same financial juggling act that their parents do every month and the number of household expenses that add up. It’s fueled some very real financial discussions between kids and parents. 

Kidsville has been run in the past, most recently about a dozen years ago. Teachers updated the program before rebooting it in early May.

Kidsville architect Kendall Rady works on the steeple of a church

Running their own businesses

On the stage at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School, instructional supervisor Jen Curry looked out over the gymnasium and the fifth-graders standing ready at their table of wares. She took the microphone in hand.

“You look phenomenal, you look professional, you look like businessmen and businesswomen,” she said. “And I can’t wait to open those doors.”

The visitors waiting patiently on line in the hallway were then let in and the TREP$ 2019 marketplace began.

TREP$ is a national, two month-long program that teaches business basics and allows students to experience the rigors and successes of entrepreneurship. Led by several CMS teachers after school, the fifth-graders went through the complete product development process, from concept to completion, and created their own unique hand-made crafts, toys, and novelty items.

TREP$ provided students with authentic skills and insight. The fifth-graders met weekly to learn a different business skill. For example, one week students were writing business plans, another week they were learning about marketing and effective advertising, and another it was salesmanship and customer service. 

The program’s finale is the marketplace where the young entrepreneurs sell their products. The marketplace isn’t just where students reap the rewards of their hard work; it’s a vital component of the program. Here, students gain the experience of interacting with real customers and making change with real money. 

The CMS marketplace was held in the early evening. Hundreds of parents, community members, friends, and faculty members packed the gym to shop. As the sales started to add up, the students beamed with the satisfaction and sense of achievement that can only come from seeing an idea become a successful reality. 

CMS has run TREP$ for the past five years. It’s been wildly popular. Younger students who experience the excitement of the marketplace can’t wait to get into fifth grade to be a part of the program.

“My older cousin did TREP$ and since then I’ve always been excited about it,” said Jillian Moscatello, who made keychains for her “store,” the Keychain Gang. “I’ve been thinking of ideas since the second grade.”

The entrepreneurs were encouraged to make use of existing skills and talents when coming up with product ideas. This provided classmates with a glimpse of a side of each other they normally wouldn't see during the school day.

"Some things looked so good," said pet toymaker Reilly Thomas. "It's amazing to see what other people can do.

Hayley Romano, TREP$ co-founder, attended the CMS marketplace to cheer on the students.

For more about TREP$ go to

Avi Bawa paints his building

Constructing communities 

Buildings are going up everywhere in CMS kindergarten classes. The students are in the middle of a project-based learning assignment that has them exploring services and occupations that help community residents. They’ve each chosen a community helper profession and are making structures associated with them. 

In a prelude to construction, the kindergartners had a chance to learn directly from some of the Mount Olive’s own community helpers. Officers from the Mount Olive Police Department spoke with students and there were also visits from members of the Budd Lake First Aid & Rescue Squad and the Budd Lake Volunteer Fire Department who showed the firefighting and medical gear they use. (And, of course, there were fire trucks! When you’re 6, is there anything cooler?) 

Some of the classes even had phone conversations with Mount Olive Mayor Rob Greenbaum to learn about his job and the services provided by local government.

In addition, the kindergartners have explored various community helpers such as truck drivers, mail carriers, and bus drivers through books and internet research.

“They love this project,” said teacher Alicia Danis. “It’s so hands-on and it’s completely theirs. They are completely free to create and have fun, and that’s exactly what kindergarten should be.”

Each kindergarten class will assemble its buildings into a giant community and make roads to connect them all. The classes – which are taught by Ms. Danis, Janine Adams, Lori Contorno, and Amy Salafia – will unveil their finished communities to parents on May 31.

Joseph Koch adds a detail to his building
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