Faced with bankruptcy after going through his one-month-budget as a waiter, Dylan Leedy went back to school to become a chef, all within the span of about an hour in the Glenvar Middle School gym on Thursday, November 19.Glenvar’s eighth-graders were able to experience a life experiment called “Reality Store,” presented by Virginia Western Community College, the Salem-Roanoke Chamber of Commerce, Western Virginia Workforce Development.
The students each chose a career they were interested in, whether they’d be married or single at age 27, and how many children they might have. They set off to the experiment with a balance sheet, ready to figure out how they’d have to spend their money.
“I think that one of the most important aspects of that is the students are immersed in it … it truly is authentic learning because it’s all individualized for them and because of the choices they make,” said Principal Juliette Myers.
Categories they had to consider included income taxes, college loan, savings, good citizenship, rent/mortgage, car payments, home and car repair/upkeep, gas, insurance, utilities, food, clothing, health care, life’s surprises, child care, pets, personal care, and recreation. Professionals from around the community were set up at stations to help the students tally expenses that closely mimic those that take a toll on the paychecks of grown-ups every month.
“Things are a lot more expensive than you think,” said eighth-grader Desi Dooley, after completing her experiment.
“It’s very difficult and something we’ve got to be prepared for. Because if you’re not, you could be going a way you don’t want to go,” said Tyler DeHart. He chose to be a pharmacist, and even after he drew a winning lottery ticket at the “life’s surprises” table, he still understood the lesson behind the activity.
“They need to understand early that their career choices matter,” said Doloris West with Western Virginia Workforce Development.
“It’s not going to be as simple as you’re going to be a doctor and make a lot of money,” she said, citing the high liability insurance and taxes that often come along with a doctor’s paycheck