BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — The preteen judge at Chocachatti Elementary School is one tough lawman all year long.
Three days a week, his grade-school courtroom is busy with students guilty of schoolyard shenanigans.
This kid-run court of law is just one buzzing hub of “Micro Society,” an innovative kid-run village at the school.
There is also a police force, working farm, post office, newspaper, salon and smoothie station.
“Our goal is to make our students productive members of society,” says Chocachatti principal Lara Silva. “We want to teach them all the options they have out there so they can go out into the world with a leg up.”
There is nothing else quite like the Micro Society in the Tampa Bay area. Some schools have Career Days and Enterprise Village, but Chocachatti’s program is a growing organic town.
When the bell rings at 2:05 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 700 students run to their jobs, whether it’s an actor, a chef in the cafe or a museum docent at Mini Mosi.
Everyone has a job andearns “micro money” kept in a bank. There are fun things to buy, including pottery and paintings from working artists.
The student police force, the Crime Stoppers, patrol the grounds, handing out tickets.
During the day, teachers can also dole out discipline by sending kids to Micro Society court, where they have to pay fines.
“Nobody wants to go to court,” says Silva, “because that is no joke.”
But Micro Society also teaches kids something greater.
“We teach manners, tolerance,” says Silva. “The kids are fully immersed in this society.”