Dose Of Reality

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday morning was a reality check forsome students from area and county schools.

    At least that’s what the organizers of “Reality Town” hope for.

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    Entering its third year, Reality Town began Tuesday and willconclude Thursday.

    Ninth-graders from Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools areawarded a fictional bank account during the program, given acheckbook and then led to various booths where they must buy orrent a house, purchase a car, buy their utilities and other lifeessentials. The totals of the bank accounts they begin with dependon each student’s Grade Point Average (GPA).

    “Keep your mind on your future,” Lori Carter told studentsWednesday morning. “The only way you have choices in life is tofurther your education whether that is through college, vo-tech orthe military.”

    A high school diploma alone will severely limit the optionsavailable to the students as they enter the working world, Cartersaid.

    Mississippi Scholars and the Junior Auxiliary host and organize theprogram with the assistance of about 80 volunteers.

    “It’s my favorite JA event,” Carter said. “We always learnsomething and the kids always learn something.”

    Wednesday saw about 115 students from West Lincoln and Bogue Chittoattendance centers and from Brookhaven Academy attend theprogram.

    For her part, West Lincoln student Mary Beth Thornton was surprisedthat she had any money left over at the end. With an ending balanceof about $200, she was relatively wealthy compared to most otherstudents.

    Thornton credited the influence of her parents with her decisionsduring “Reality Town.”

    “I picked up a lot from my parents,” Thornton said.

    Thornton said she had a general idea of what some of the “RealityTown” items cost, but there were some surprises. She also creditedthe program with giving her a broader appreciation of what herparents do.

    “I learned my parents do a lot to keep me fed and sheltered,”Thornton said.

    Mississippi Scholars chairman Kenny Goza credits Reality Town withproviding high school students a glimpse into life they may not begetting from anywhere else. He said there are not as many parentslike Thornton’s as there should be.

    “We put all this focus on the kids, but the missing piece is theparents,” Goza said. “Some kids have no parental involvement.”

    Goza added that parents must get involved in their children’slives.

    Brookhaven High School students went through the program Tuesday,with Loyd Star and Enterprise students scheduled for Thursday.