Junior high students get Reality check

PLYMOUTH — Area eighth graders got a hard dose of truth at Plymouth’s Lincoln Jr. High.
The program known as “The Reality Store” sent Plymouth and Argos eighth grade students through a brief exercise designed to give them a taste of the economic realities of adulthood. In addition it seems to have given most a new perspective on certain people in their lives.
“It definitely gives me a new appreciation of my parents,” said Tabby Masterson, a Lincoln student, as she made her way through the maze of adult budgetary responsibilities.
Each student was given an occupation, a salary, and family data and then sent to different stops to work through their ordinary budget.
“Most of the kids didn’t even know what IRS meant,” said Lori Day, one of the organizers of the event at Lincoln. “The first stop was to go pay your taxes and that was a huge shock to most of them.”
After paying their taxes, students proceeded to different stations manned by volunteers and local business people. Stops to pay your college loan, pay for your housing, car, insurance, furniture, credit cards - an entire labyrinth of responsibilities and luxuries that make up the everyday economic decisions of an adult.
“We teach Consumer Economics in the eighth grade and a Life and Careers course for freshmen so this fits in with our programs perfectly,” said Judy Delp, Guidance Director at Argos Schools. “One thing that I’m going to be sure and do a follow up on is the credit cards. I think that’s something that people need to have control of in their lives.”
“I can’t believe how many ways their are to lose your money,” said Dalton Rogers as he made his way through the tables of choices. Rogers also had another rude awakening on entering the room.
“I got a ticket for a tail light infraction and I hadn’t even bought a car yet.”
Cole Reinholt — whose given career was a Marine Biologist with a wife and two kids for the exercise - found sticker price shock on another item.
“Groceries,” he said. “I can’t believe how expensive groceries are.”
“They don’t want to buy generics,” said Cody Shonkwiler of Martin’s Supermarket who along with Lori Fisher of Martin’s manned the grocery stop. “Nobody seems to want to buy generics. They’re buying all the name brands and they’re more expensive.”
Even though they were unwilling to sacrifice on food, the students surprisingly seemed willing to cut corners on another item.
“We’re making all kinds of sales today,” laughed Manny Caban of Oliver Ford who were there to provide “transportation” for the new consumers. While students were offered several options for their car purchase - including a brand new Mustang GT and a top of the line SUV, another choice was the top.
“We’re selling a lot of Fiestas today. I think they’re taking a look at their budget. I think this is a great experience for kids.”
The Reality Store has been a staple at the high school in Plymouth. This was the first year for the program to be held at the junior high.