When students came in Monday, they participated in the LEAP Into the Future Reality Store. Students were broken down into 10 groups. Each student had to draw a career before attending the program and were assigned a pay rate based on that job in the community. Some jobs listed were clergy, insurance agent, retail manager, teacher, accountant, communication, nursing, and many others. Teachers worked with students before the event on budgeting a checkbook and financing.
The event started with a lecture from Kathy Deal, coordinator for reality store, about the process and what she hopes they will receive from the experience.
Students then began to walk through the room, moving from booth to booth. Deal said the first booth was where students draw their martial status and if they have children or not. The students then walked with their checkbook, around the room. Some of the tables deal with banking, taxes, utilities, housing, food, childcare, if they drew children at the first table, medical, transportation and several others related to life.
Deal said the goal is to educate the students and help them learn life skills. She said some students don't know what it is like for their parents or guardians to pay bills and the cost of living.
"We do not stress enough the fact that students are taught work ethic, not welfare mentality," she said. "If a student reaches the second job table and they are almost out of funds, they take a second job. We do not encourage welfare."
Deal said the exercise is to help them learn to survive and support themselves. She wants it to be a positive experience.
Many people volunteered their time for the event. Deal said some are retired while some are still working.
Jacob Jenkins, eighth-grader, said he had a great time. He had drawn a communication career and was married with no children. He said he did fine on his budgeting and ended up with a balance left over.
Shelby Layne, eighth-grader, said she found the experience to be difficult. Her career was accountant and married with three children. She said having the bills, and the process of paying them, was very interesting. She said spending all the money was not fun. Layne enjoyed the event and now understands what it is like to pay bills because she never really thought about it before.
The Clay County Business Women's Club and Terre Haute Savings Bank both of which participate in the event, sponsor the LEAP Into the Future Reality Store. The event is in its 16th year. LEAP stands for Learn, Evaluate and Make, Appropriate and Plans for the Future. Deal teaches at Riley Elementary School in Vigo County.