Middle school students hit with dose of reality

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Seventh-graders from two Jasper schools paid for cars, took vacations, and lived like they were in their 20s during a financial simulation exercise held at Jasper Middle School on Friday.

But fun as it may be to have the big house or the fancy clothes, participants were served a dose of reality when they learned the hard truth of how expensive bills and amenities actually cost.

“They find out the ups and downs of living like an adult and paying in the real world,” said Michelle Brown, who is a Jasper Middle School social studies teacher and the school’s social studies coordinator. Brown and fellow social studies teacher Wes Moser organized the event, as well as JMS parent-teacher-student organization volunteer coordinator Brooke Lampert.

Participants from JMS and Holy Trinity Catholic School both attended the event in the Jasper Middle School gymnasium. They had a monthly budget, and it was their job to spend it. Prior to engaging in the “Reality Store” activity, students researched and selected jobs they were interested in having in the future.

They started off the day by receiving a paycheck, and then cycled through about 15 stations set up in the Jasper Middle School gymnasium that chipped away at their pocketbooks. Some of these stops included the dreaded, necessary expenses their parents are all too familiar with, including a utilities booth, insurance station and grocery stop. Fun stations for luxuries like pets and entertainment also filled in the loop.

For youth unfamiliar with the cost of living, seeing how much rent and other payments would actually run them caused some to raise their eyebrows.

“That was kind of surprising,” said Joseph Arena, a seventh-grade JMS student who worked participated in the exercise. One of his biggest takeaways from the event was that he should always have an emergency fund of money stashed away.

“Life’s unexpected is going to happen,” he said. “I don’t know, I’ll probably get ran over by a car or break a bone. Who knows what can happen. I need to always have some sort of money left over.”

Some kids ended the day in the red, while others boasted that they made it out with money to spare.

Today, the students reflected on their Reality Store experiences and discussed why doing well in school and matching the type of career they pursue to the kind of lifestyle is important for them to consider when planning ahead. In addition to that, Lampert said that hopefully the kids have a higher appreciation for what their parents do for them.

“I don’t want them to just pick the job that makes them the most money so they can buy the fancy cars and go on the vacations,” Lampert said. “I also want them to realize that you can make it work, you just have to budget.”




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