Clinton — On a Tuesday morning, Ms. Smithson’s third-grade classroom at North Clinton Elementary School transforms into an entrepreneurial hub.

“We could put our restaurant in the multi-purpose zone,” says one student. “We could give away free tacos on your birthday,” says another.

The third graders are scattered in groups around the room, developing business plans to prepare them to open their own restaurants; a business lesson you typically wouldn't see until college.

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It’s the final session Junior Achievement, a nonprofit program that teaches financial literacy skills, work-readiness, and entrepreneurship.

Over the course of five weeks, the students learned how a city is divided into zones and why governments collect taxes. They wrote checks, balanced budgets, and put their knowledge to the test to open a pretend restaurant.

It might sound like a lot to take in, but students played games and participated in hands-on activities to help the lessons stick.

If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering with Junior Achievement, visit