Students getting major dose of ‘Reality’

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ninth-graders have it so easy with their books and notes andclass work, never worrying beyond $5 for a cheeseburger or $20 forgas.

They’ll get a hard dose of reality this week.

Beginning Tuesday, every ninth-grade student in the city, countyand private schools will attend the second annual Reality Town, alife-skills workshop designed to show impressionable students howthe grades they make in high school can affect the money they makeas adults. The more than 500 freshmen students will be bussed tothe Lincoln Civic Center over a three-day span to make their money,buy their goods and balance their checkbooks at the eye-openingevent.

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“We want them to realize there’s a correlation between making goodgrades, getting a good education and finding a good job and goodcareer,” said Shannon Miller, chairman of the Junior Auxiliary ofBrookhaven’s Scholarship Committee, which hosts the event. “We hopeit encourages them to think about their educational goals and howthey make a difference in the future.”

At Reality Town, freshmen will be assigned a monthly salary basedon the grade point average of their first semester’s work andrequired to spend their “money” for goods and services at stationsrun by local businesses.

According to statistics compiled by the JA’s committee, studentswho make As can expect a net monthly take-home of $1,908.75,students who make Bs can expect $1,654.25, students who make Cs canexpect $1,208.88 and students who make Ds and Fs can expect$954.

Students will have to make choices about what kind of dwellingthey’ll live in, what kind of car they’ll drive, the quality oftheir insurance and how many amenities they can afford. They’ll getinformation on those products and services and make their decisionsby rotating to tables run by Baker Realty, Bank of Brookhaven,Betsy Smith Properties, Cable One, Cellular South, Entergy, FarmBureau, Hobbs Realty, Insurance and Risk Managers, Legacy Toyota,Magnolia Electric, Paul Barnett Nissan and Sullivan Ford.

Students who make good grades will be able to buy nicer things.Students who make poor grades will be struggling to make ends meetin Reality Town.

“We feel Reality Town is a great exercise, a great event wherestudents can get a little reality check of what their parents andadults have to do every day,” Miller said.

Loyd Star Attendance Center Principal Robin Case called RealityTown “phenomenal,” saying freshman from her school would attendevery year the event is offered.

“It’s way more than pretend – it’s actually showing these childrenwhat their life could be like and how their choices affect theirstandard of living,” she said. “It’s a great eye-opener.”

Brookhaven High School Principal Dr. Jay Smith said Reality Town isperhaps the most beneficial program students participate in.

“They’re just real-world activities,” he said. “It gives kids somereal world applications as to what they’re going to be doing intheir every-day lives.”