Reality check at Reality Town
March 29, 2006
A glimpse into the future revealed more than meets the eye for many of Treasure Mountain International Middle School’s eighth graders Thursday as they entered Reality Town an annual event headed up by the school’s counseling office.
"This really put me into reality. I just can’t believe how my mother does all this. It’s a reality shock," said Camilla Hahan, age 14.
Parents and community volunteers manned booths representing a variety of "businesses" ready to provide needed services for the students, who had to pretend they were in their early 30s for the event.
Juggling decisions to buy health insurance or risk the unexpected weighed against the allure of a new car or tropical vacation. Balancing want and need became evident as many students struggled over other choices such as economical vs. designer clothes and apartment renting vs. home purchasing. Child care consumed a significant portion of the "family" budget, much to the surprise of the student shoppers.
"They’re realizing the fundamental demands of adulthood. I think they’re surprised at how much things cost," said Sally Elliott, Summit County Commissioner and Rotary Club president, who manned the insurance booth.
The objective of the event was to develop a budget and lifestyle while living within the confines of a student’s monthly income, according to the Reality Town guide – it is never too early to begin planning for the future.
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Each student was given a life scenario including a career, salary and family situation. It was then up to the student to find a way to make ends meet by choosing wisely from all the options provided by each "business" booth. Coming up short diverted students to the supplement income booth for either a second job or a loan.
Counseling was available to assist these students with the consequences of either choice.
"It taught me a lot and that you have to be careful and spend money wisely work harder in school now," said Quinn Stoeber, age 14.
The "Just My Luck" booth left nothing to chance every student had to select a card with an expected incident/expense which they included in the family budget. Anything from a need for new soccer shoes or an unexpected vet bill required rearranging family expenses.
"Each student’s GPA for the school year’s first two quarters determined their education level and annual salary," said Mary Klismith, guidance counselor at TMIMS. "It was good for the kids to interact with community members. I think it turned out great I think they took it seriously."
This cross-curriculum event included help from the English department for resume writing, the social studies department for goal setting and job searching, the science department for job applications and the math department for check writing and checkbook balancing.
"It’s kind of scary and makes you realize you need to get a good job and stay in school," said Hannah Crawford, age 13.