Waupaca High School students learned about financial planning, goal setting, decision making and career planning at the Reality Store.
WHS juniors and seniors attended the April 16 event, which was held in the high school gym.
At the Reality Store, the activities helped students examine their attitudes about their futures and career expectations.
Students met in homerooms and chose their careers.
Then, they learned what their salaries would be, which for some was a surprise, shock or disappointment.
In addition, they randomly picked families (no children, children and how many children).
When they entered the Reality Store community, students first paid taxes on their incomes and then put some money in their savings accounts.
They visited community places to buy cars, insurance, obtain housing, pay child care if necessary, get a pet if they wanted to, buy groceries, etc.
Officer Bret Rodenz randomly handed out tickets, because in real life, people do get random speeding, parking and seatbelt tickets.
Students went to court, where Dean of Students Shane Dornfeld played the judge.
Students paid their fines or performed “community service” by singing a song or doing pushups to avoid paying the fine.
Students also visited the “Fate” booth, where they picked a card or rolled the dice. Some received a cash bonus, while others lost money for unexpected expenses.
The goal of the Reality Store was to help students get a quick view of what life could hold for them as adults.
Some found there are things in life they have to do, even if they do not want to.
Some learned to get necessities first – like housing – before choosing a cellphone or a pet.
The goal was to help students realize that needs come before wants, and have them develop a better understanding of what their parents go through in deciding how to spend their money.
The Waupaca Breakfast Rotary Club and Faulks Brothers Construction, Inc. sponsored the event. Rotarians Wendy McIntee and Faye Wilson helped me organize it.
Principal Rob Becker and Christine Neumann, an aide at WHS, worked behind the scenes and were instrumental in making it a success.
More than 50 community members volunteered their time that morning to staff booths for the event.
The student feedback has been mostly positive, and this is something WHS hopes to repeat in the future to give all students an opportunity to experience reality.
Teresa Duda is a business education teacher at Waupaca High School.