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Welcome to Boxton!

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Sarah Antrim (left) and Hadley Bennett (right) sold homemade slime and pencils and snacks to classmates and guests who visited their mini-city of Boxton this week.
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Carson Bell, the mayor of Boxton, presents the key to the city to New Castle Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Matthew Shoemaker at Wilbur Wright Elementary School. The citizens of Boxton and other members of the NCCSC admininstration team stand behind the pair.

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Tuesday was a busy day in Boxton.

The arrival of a dignitary party from the local school corporation caused traffic backups and detours. Having paparazzi in the area sure didn’t help matters.

Boxton doesn’t show up on Google Maps and Siri can’t get you there.

It is a mini-city created in Norma Spangler’s FOCUS class at Wilbur Wright Elementary School in New Castle.

Spangler said this is the one project she repeats for her students every year.

The citizens of Boxton are third and fourth graders. They founded the city, voting on everything from its name and flag to its mayor and city council.

There are utility companies, a fire marshal who sells faux-smoke alarms and even a police chief who issues tickets for late homework.

Along with their elected and appointed positions, the young men and women of Boxton have lined the streets with shops where they sell snacks, school supplies, comic book trinkets and, at one shop, “magic” items.

“This has been so much fun,” said Morgan Phillips, who runs the shop, Morgie’s.

Boxton even has a weekly newspaper, run by Editor Mallory Owens.

The kids earn and spend “mini-city bucks” through their jobs and shops.

Spangler said the top-five moneyholders at the end of the two-week simulation will get to name the streets and city park for next year’s mini-city.

The idea is especially exciting for the current crop of third graders, who intend on being in the FOCUS class again next school year.

Spangler said running the project each year also lets the fourth-grade students build on experiences they already had and get a deeper understanding of how the in-class city reflects the real world.

Tuesday morning, the citizens of Boxton got a visit from New Castle Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Matt Shoemaker, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Smith and Business Manager Megan Bell.

Megan also had the privilege of being the mother of Boxton Mayor Carson Bell.

The class greeted the NCCSC dignitaries and asked thoughtful questions about each of their jobs.

Shoemaker explainedthat he, like Mayor Bell, works with an elected council – the New Castle School Board – to make decisions about the district.

He said working with the school board and other NCCSC administrators is making it possible to plan a new construction project at Wilbur Wright Elementary School this summer.

“It’s really fun to be a part of that,” Shoemaker told the students.

In the class, each Boxton resident sat at their desk inside a large open box that served as their storefront. People traveling the streets could choose from a variety of wares.

Besides being a fun way to end the school year, the mini-city simulation aligns with Indiana’s Social Studies standards.

The third-grade FOCUS students learn about being a part of a community that is bigger than they are. They learn how scarcity causes opportunity costs, how community leaders address civic issues and that there are consequences for violating the law.

The fourth graders develop a better understanding of the importance of voting and the responsibilities government leaders have. They learn how productive citizens help a community grow and the effect supply and demand have on the price of goods.

The FOCUS students also learn the importance of saving and planning for the future.