Scooter Town runs like any typical town.
Hard-working employees man the drive-thrus at restaurants, the coffee shop and the bank. Police and firefighters patrol the streets. Citizens run errands at the grocery store and the post office. And, for the most part, drivers follow the rules of the road.
But unlike most cities, Scooter Town is run entirely by elementary schoolers.
Contained to the James W. Lintott Elementary School gym, Scooter Town allows students to practice their social skills and get exercise while “driving” their scooters down “roads” between several “businesses” set up around the gym, including mini-versions of McDonald’s Starbucks, Fuller’s Market and Home Depot.
Students can choose to take on a profession in Scooter Town like police officer or barista, or they can simply take up a scooter and patronize the various businesses as customers.
Students can even send letters to their classmates schoolwide via the Scooter Town post office and utilize the telephone booth to pretend to make a phone call, though those usually require some help from a grown-up who’s familiar with the old-fashioned landline system.
When students arrive in the gym for their scheduled physical education (P.E.) time during the two weeks of the year where Scooter Town is set up, each kid gets $5 from the official Scooter Town bank and some basic instructions: Use your manners, ask nicely at the drive thru, wear your uniform when you take a job and follow traffic rules. But aside from that, and ongoing supervision from P.E. teachers Melissa Varick and JoAnne Enbody to ensure students are following the rules and staying safe, the kids are given free rein of the make-believe town.
“They’ve been to drive-thrus, they’ve been to stores. They’re kids: they play, they act,” said Varick.
Varick first initiated Scooter Town at Cascade Elementary in 1998 as a program for her P.E. students. An Eagle Scout built the mini-businesses that populate Scooter Town as part of his Eagle Scout project and years later, another Eagle Scout added new buildings to the collection and renovated some of the existing structures.
Scooter Town moved with Varick to Lintott when the new school opened in 2018, but the program was temporarily suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19.
This year marks the return of Scooter Town, and while it is the first chance Lintott’s current K-2 students will have to participate, Varick said Scooter Town was a hot topic around school days leading up to its reopening.
“Everybody’s talking about it this week and they didn’t even know what it was,” said Varick, adding that their information about Scooter Town came from older siblings and former Cascade students with fond memories of the program.
“I've heard Scooter Town gets mentioned at graduation ceremonies as a fond memory for students of their elementary years,” Varick said.
It takes many hands and several hours to set up Scooter Town every year, but given how much joy students get from visiting Scooter Town, Varick doesn’t mind the work.
“It’s rewarding and it makes the work worth it because they love it so much,” she said.