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Junior Auxiliary presents Real Life 101

Ninth graders of Lincoln County got a little dose of reality this week.

Every year, the Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary hosts a Reality World fair to teach children a little something about what it means to be an adult. Each student receives a simulated income based on their grade point average. Then they’re asked to walk through stations representing real-life purchasing decisions.

“They have to learn to make decisions based on their income, and not necessarily what they want,” Junior Auxiliary Communications Chairwoman Kristine Mason said.

As many as 300 ninth graders from all over Lincoln County were taken Wednesday and Thursday to the Lincoln Civic Center where they had to make their purchasing decisions, including insurance, vehicles and utilities. Mason said students receive either a Payday or a Zero candy bar at the end of the event depending on how much money they had left.

“We encourage the students,” Mason said. “Your grade does not define you, but the more work you put in, the better the reward. It’s interesting to see that little light switch go off, and they get it.”

Representatives from several local businesses attended to talk to the children about how these choices were important in daily life. State Sen. Sally Doty also attended the event to mentor the children on how to become successful adults.

“I talked about life choices that these 14- and 15-year-olds are going to be facing,” Doty said. “Choices that can affect the rest of their life.”

Doty said she advised the children to avoid illegal drugs and wait until marriage to have a baby.

“Sometimes you need someone to look you in the eye and say, ‘You cannot do illegal drugs and have a successful life,’” she said. “It’s just not an option.”

Doty said she believed talking with teenagers early about these choices may help them establish a code of conduct about how to approach the choices they need to make.

Brookhaven Academy Head of School Jason Case said Reality World is an excellent teaching tool for students.

“It helps them to get a glimpse of real life spending with an understanding that academic success is a direct correlation of the lifestyle they will choose to have,” Case said. “I’m thankful that Brookhaven has concerned citizens who are excited about making this happen for our students. Thanks again for the ones who volunteered their time for our future leaders.”

Funding for the program comes from the annual JA “Peel ‘Em & Eat ‘Em” shrimp dinner. The dinner will be Oct. 17 at the Lincoln Civic Center from 3-7 p.m. The dinner is take out only and requires a ticket. Any active JA member is selling tickets, and purchase by Sept. 22 is encouraged. For more information, call the Shrimp Hotline at 601-754-9380.