On Dec. 10, the seniors in Honors Economics got the opportunity to present their midterm, the Urban Plan project, to a panel of volunteers from the Urban Plan program. Through this project and presentation, every group was able to showcase their hard work and what they had learned during the semester, and the “Wonder Development” group, consisting of seniors Emma Messer, Kennan Milford, Stone Foster, Leo Rutledge and Daniella Streety, won the competition. 

For the Urban Plan project, the students were put into groups of five within their classes and tasked with creating a redevelopment plan for a fictional city, The Elmwood district of Yorktown. Within each group, students were assigned to a specific role, including City Liaison, Neighborhood Liaison, Marketing Director, Site Planner and Financial Analyst.  

“I loved getting a better understanding of how city officials can redevelop a city and how everything works within a city,” senior Ashlyn Gooch said. “It was really cool for me to understand the roles of each person.”

The goal of each group was to come up with a redevelopment plan that took into account the wishes and desires of the fictional city’s inhabitants, all while ensuring they earned back the required percent return and ten year revenue that the city required. This task helped incorporate and test the student’s knowledge on what they had learned about economics during the semester long class. 

“I’ve learned how much goes into a real development like this,” senior Nicole Macri said. “Seeing how much work it takes and how many people you have to run things by and try to please was really crazy.”

Because this project was the midterm grade, the students spent multiple weeks leading up to the presentation doing homework, practicing and talking to experienced city officials in order to develop their project in the best way possible. In fact, the groups were even able to call representatives from city council and get feedback on what they needed to fix in their plan during their “facilitations.”

Learning how to redevelop cities was not the only skill students had to enhance. Teamwork was a large part of the project, as each group had to compromise on decisions and work through differing opinions in order to create a complete product. Additionally, students had to prepare to present their plan to a panel of judges and their peers, further developing the skill of public speaking. 

“Beyond the teamwork and public speaking, they will take from this I think a new appreciation for whatever community they live in,” Honors Economics teacher Stephanie McCann said. “Things happen for a reason; things don’t just get developed.”

While some students in Honors Economics may not plan to enter a career field in urban planning or economics, this project allowed them to experience the complicated process of city development and learn about the effort it takes to smoothly run a city. 

“As our country continues to grow, we’re landlocked,” McCann said. “Our only option is to build up or to tear down. What are the actual costs, seen and unseen, of those choices?”

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