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Annual Reality Store set for Nov. 14

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eighth-grade students will soon get a "reality check" when it comes to knowing what it's like to be an adult.

North Clay and Clay City students have a chance to go to the Reality Store, a "LEAP into the future" where they will Learn how to budget, Evaluate a variety of information and make Appropriate Plans for their futures.

Clay Business Women's Club, in partnership with Terre Haute Savings Bank, will present the 20th annual Reality Store at North Clay Middle School, Monday, Nov. 14, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

The eighth-graders will pretend to be 28-year-olds for a day, where they will learn to be responsible planners and thinkers.

"We believe this is a great age for them to think about their future decisions," Reality Store Coordinator Kathy Deal said.

During the Reality Store, students will encounter booths such as Bank, Housing, Food, Child Care, Medical Insurance and Entertainment, among others.

Students will begin by receiving a job from their school counselors and drawing a ball that will give them their family status -- married, single, no children or up to four children.

Next, they will open a checking account and receive their month's wages for their particular job at the Bank booth. If a student has a higher paying job, they will have to pay student loans.

During the Uncle Sam booth, students will pay three main taxes before heading to the Housing booth to choose between buying and renting a home based on their family situation.

Nearly 375 students participating will have to pay utilities including water bills, electricity bills, cell phone bills and more.

"This is very eye opening," Deal said. "They quickly learn there are many, many bills they have to pay."

The students will also have to pay a monthly grocery bill based on the number of people in their families, and if the student has children they must pay per child for childcare.

Students will also make choices about medical insurance, transportation, getting a second job, furniture, clothing, entertainment, legal problems and church/charitable contributions.

At the end of the Reality Store, students will talk with volunteers about the financial choices they made throughout the booths. Local professionals will be teaching the students how to use money in a way that will work for them.

"This is giving them a vision of what it is like to be a young adult and what steps it takes to prepare for that leap into the future," Deal said. "The students fill out an evaluation form every year. We have had extremely positive comments from the students."

Also helping with the project are Walt Decorators, Tabco Printing, the school principals and counselors, local government and 50-60 volunteers.

"There are many, many hands working behind the scenes to make this work for the kids," Deal explained. "It's a lot of wonderful people working together for this project."

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