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Since Young AmeriTowne began 30 years ago, more than half a million youth have gained a hands-on lesson in free enterprise—a generation of young people. Ali Mickelson, the Public Affairs Advisor for the Dumb Friends League is fortunate to be among them.
Ali doesn’t remember too many details about her time at Newton Middle School, a Littleton Public School in Centennial, but her memories of AmeriTowne are surprisingly clear. Prior to visiting Towne, Ali, who was then Ali Williams, and her classmates worked through lessons and simulations at school with their teachers. “I remember applying for jobs and doing an interview,” said Ali in a recent conversation. “I really wanted to be the DJ. It was the coolest, the most coveted job, and that’s why I wanted it.” It didn’t matter that Ali had no experience in either music or radio, she had, “all the confidence in the world” when she sat down with a parent volunteer for her job interview. The interview must have gone well because Ali landed the job.
In addition to her interview prep, Ali also remembers meeting with her business team at school to come up with a Radio Station name, advertising strategy, and price structure. “I wish I could remember our business name—I remember thinking it was the best Radio Station name ever,” laughed Ali. She also remembers learning practical “adult” skills such as balancing a checkbook and filling out a deposit slip. All of this work helped prepare Ali and her fellow students to run AmeriTowne.
Reflecting on her time in AmeriTowne, Ali is confident that these memories have stuck with her because the experience was so fun. “Even as a sixth grader, I had the sense that everybody should do this—pretend to be an adult and get to learn in a fun way,” she said. It is this magical combination of education and fun that results in the best learning.