Reality check I

CLINTON – Clinton High School junior and senior students took part in a Reality Check sponsored by the career, and technical education departments in Clinton High School.

The event, spearheaded by business education teachers Mrs. Laura Benisch and Mrs. Elisa Shoemaker, is a life experience simulation.

Students were able to research careers in advance and select the career of their choosing. They were randomly assigned life situations, such as whether or not they were married, single, or divorced, and whether or not they had children.

The day of the event, they were given a list of monetary values with which to work, that included their yearly salary, and their monthly expenses for raising children, household bills, groceries, etc.

They were required to pay for housing, purchase a car, and select several forms of recreation. Students moved to various stations manned by local business people and community members who volunteered their time to help with the experience.

As students made their way to each station, the volunteers role played with them, trying to sell them a house, a car, recreational vehicles, helping them plan investments, purchase pets, insurance, make funeral arrangements for “Uncle Horacio” and even purchase a vacuum cleaner.

A police officer was on location, handing out citations for various reasons to add some unexpected expenses to the simulation. Once students had taken care of their responsibilities, they had to “check out” with a specified amount of money left in their checking accounts.

If a student had more than the required amount in the checking accounts, they could transfer some to a savings account, make investments, or find other ways to spend it.

If they were below zero, they had to visit the “SOS” table. The volunteers at this table helped students overcome financial obstacles and other life issues.

They served as financial planners, lawyers, judges, employers, and whatever else students needed to help them solve their problems.

Student experiences varied tremendously. Some students, who were single with no children, and selected a career in which they earned at least $40,000 per year found that they had plenty of money left at the end of the simulation and had to find ways to invest it or spend it. Others, however, faced struggles.

Benisch and Shoemaker received overwhelming support from the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, and the many new volunteers who stepped in this year. In her opening remarks to volunteers, Shoemaker shared her passion for Financial Literacy Education and pointed out that the Clinton Community School District was meeting all of the requirements that school districts with “A” ratings from the Financial Literacy Counsel do.

Events like Reality Check are impossible without volunteer support. The overwhelming success of Reality Check is due to the willingness of the community to participate.