Students were given a sample of what the future holds during Reality Day at Iola-Scandinavia High School.
“I think it’s exciting that students get a picture of reality while they’re still in high school,” said District Administrator Duane Braun. “All of these things are part of the real world.”
After being assigned a job, a wage and a family status, each student was required to visit about 20 “stations” set up in the gymnasium.
These stations – banking, insurance, child care, car dealers, part-time jobs, charities, etc. – were manned by professionals from the community.
Reality Day provided an array of simulated real-life financial experiences at various booths set up in the high school gym.
In this environment, students underwent one “month” of income, expenses and incidentals, both planned and unexpected.
Upon entering the experience, the students deposited a “paycheck” with an amount from an occupation they had previously researched in Career Exploration class (taxes, student loans and, in some randomly assigned cases, child support already withheld).
Students also were given family situations at random: spouses, children of various ages and pets.
Under these parameters, they were required to obtain housing, child care, a vehicle, insurance (health and auto) and then move throughout the simulation to approximately 20 booths buying groceries, gas, clothing, etc.
Other incidents unexpectedly happened, as in life: Some had a child get sick and had to pay a doctor bill; some got a ticket from a police officer for speeding.
Throughout the event, students were required to write checks, use debit accounts and keep an accurate account register. They could not leave the simulation without paying all their bills, while maintaining a positive bank balance.
As an example, one student was about to check out when his required stop at the Fate station gave him an unexpected pet food bill, which he could not afford.
When the Food Pantry could not assist him and the Vet station could not take the “dog” off his hands, he got aid at the Part-Time Job booth, where a few hours per month working at Taco Bell gave him the needed income.
These sorts of tribulations gave seniors a little taste of what it might be like to be on their own.
Students were assigned a time and group to enter the simulation.
It took about 2 1/2 hours for each to work his way through the stations.
“This is a wonderful experience,” said Gail Nelson, of First National Bank. “(Students) can get a taste of what their paycheck can do and how fast it runs out. I don’t think they realize how many expenses there are in the real world.”
“It’s good for them to know what’s available,” said Sharon Peterson, of the Iola Food Pantry.
She was at the Charity station, where students could possibly get help if they spent too much on other items.
“It is really good for these students to see what living really costs,” said Mark Sether, of Premier Community Bank.
At his station, students could get a credit card to help with expenses. They were required to visit his station a second time to make a payment before checking out.
“They need to pay at least 10 percent of their balance and have enough funds to do it,” Sether explained.
The students were also required to stop twice at the Fate station, where they faced something unexpected. There was also a “roaming” nurse and a police officer.
“I think they’re very surprised by a lot of the costs,” said Kari Mack, of Young Impressions, who was at the Child Care station.
About 25 community volunteers helped with the event.
“We appreciate them taking time from their busy schedules to make this Reality Day very realistic,” Braun said.
The event was sponsored by the I-S High School’s Family and Consumer Sciences and Business Education departments on Jan. 10 for seniors in the Consumer Economics classes.