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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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McAllen
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Sam Houston Minitropolis ready for grand opening

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McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius

Texas Border Business

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The sounds are familiar. The hustle and bustle of people standing in line, being helped, then going about their business as they move on to the next item on their “to do” list.

What catches the eye is that these people are not adults. They are young children. Yet, they know their way around a bank, a store, a post office and other amenities found in a typical city.

Welcome to Houstonville. That’s the affectionate name for the Minitropolis at McAllen ISD’s Sam Houston Elementary.  

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A Minitropolis program is a visionary program that mirrors a fully functioning, real-life community to create an academic learning experience for elementary school students. It has been going on for 23 years now at Sam Houston Elementary. Sam Houston will hold its annual Grand Opening for the new school year from 8-10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30. The campus is at 3221 Olga Ave.

The speakers will include IBC Bank CEO and President Adrian Villarreal, McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J.A. Gonzalez, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius and McAllen ISD School Board President Marco Suarez. 

In a Minitropolis program, the students are in charge. This means students run a mini-bank, sell inventory in mini-stores, a student postman delivers mail to each classroom and there is even a student mayor for Houstonville. 

This mini-city is now home to institutions and organizations that are vital for the survival and progress of a real-world community. Presently, each Minitropolis program is partially sponsored and supported by IBC Bank. 

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In addition to Houston, the district has Minitropolis programs at Fields, Escandon, Hendricks, Seguin and Wilson elementary schools.

State education requirements now want a greater emphasis on financial literacy for students – further solidifying the need for students to understand how business works.

“The motivation behind this program is to provide students with the social, academic and real-life skills they need to be successful and responsible citizens while introducing them to different careers,” Sam Houston Principal Debra Thomas said. “At the same time, the incentives embedded into the program are designed to increase student attendance and improve student attitudes toward learning. This program has become a shining example of what can be accomplished when a community comes together.”

In September, Sam Houston was named a national Blue Ribbon School. Only 26 schools in Texas were named Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

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