1/15/2014 12:38:00 PM Reality event opens eyes of students
Gen Brion helps CHS student Samantha Gerland, shopping on the medium budget of $150, make calculations. Gerland was experiencing life on the salary of a pastor.
Reality hit hard for 147 Cameron High School students last Thursday, Jan. 9. In its third year, a reality store wake-up call, initiated by teacher Cheryl Hopkins, had students pretending to live a month with an assigned job, marital status, number of dependents and income. Stations throughout the gym are set up to represent the various real-life payouts that adults experience. Students begin at the bank and travel through the various stations, paying their bills with checks or debit cards. Taxes, housing, insurance, groceries, child care and other day-to-day situations experienced by adults were addressed. Amounts paid were deducted from their checkbooks and After paying all bills and expenses, students had their checkbooks reviewed by district superintendent Randal Braun and CHS principal John Meznarich. If they were in financial trouble, they received help from teachers. The ultimate goal of the assignment was to pay all monthly expenses and end with a positive balance in their checkbooks. Stations manned by staff and volunteers were as follows. Bank-Melissa Secraw, Cara Duerkop, Joan Bader, Judy Nichols and Stacy Smith, were at the first stop for all students. They deposited their paycheck and received a checkbook. Some of the students had paychecks garnished for child support while others received child support. Government services/Uncle Sam-Roger Olson assisted students in determining the amount of taxes based on their monthly wages, marital status and number of dependents. Housing-Mark Shore, Rod Hanson and Dave Ziarnik helped students with renting an apartment of buying a house. The mortgage payment included real estate taxes and mortgage insurance. Housing needs were decided by the number of dependents. For example, someone who has a married with two children status cannot rent a one-bedroom apartment. Car dealers-Mitch Fredrickson and Rick Meskers helped students select a vehicle and make a monthly payment. When a student had a married status and their spouse was working, they were required to purchase two vehicles. If a student was single without any children, they could elect to not purchase a car. Convenience store-Mel Vince helped students who purchased a vehicle calculate their monthly gas consumption. Insurance-Auto, home owners, life and renters insurance were addressed by Shaun Carr, Ann Matheny and Jason Saffert. Medical, dental and vision insurance were addressed by Morgan Hopkins and Cole Zwiefelhofer. Groceries and household products-Gen Brion helped students make purchases based on their lifestyle and status. Students with children under the age of 2 living with them had to purchase diapers and formula. Students chose from three budget options. "The low budget list has mostly generic items and buying things like toilet paper one roll at a time," said Brion. "The medium budget offers some name brands. The high budget option has name brand products, steak once a week and better toilet paper. "I tell the kids to go home and thank their parents for supper every night," she said. "This really shows them what items cost." Child care- Bob Lundequam helped the students through the station. Only students who have sole custody of their children pay for child care. Single or married students with children must make a child care choice. If both are working, after-school care was addressed. Utilities-Wendy Boese and Melissa Klump helped students pay for telephone service and select a cell phone plan, energy based on their housing selection and television and Internet service, which was optional. Clothing-Laurie Adams helped students choose an option that worked for their career and children if they were parents. Student Brennen Schutt, who had been assigned the job of a bowling alley mechanic at an income of $19,000 per year, said the experience taught him he needs to have a good job. Leisure and entertainment-Students had to purchase at least one activity with the help of Cindy Kennedy. This could be from travel; dining out at fast food places, casual or fancy restaurants, family activities such as movies; or big ticket items such as a big screen television, boat, jet skis or other item. Charity-Assistant district administrator Joe Leschisin helped students make required charitable contributions for church or community organizations. Fate--Sharon Nelsen dealt out two cards of fate to each students. Some of these cards held costs of a broken furnace, library fines, gifts for birthdays or baby showers, new brakes needed, a nail in a tire, a chip in a windshield, or unexpected expenses. A few of the fate cards held good luck such as a lottery payout or receiving a birthday gift. "When coming to the Fate table, students experienced the realistic negative impact of unexpected expenses, such as home repairs and medical expenses, to their budget," said Nelsen. "The few who received a small or large windfall were grateful for that benefit. "The students seemed to take this activity very seriously and showed authentic concern about having enough money to meet their needs," she said. "I'm really learning what my parents go through," said student Danie Strzelecki." She was working through the income of $4,019 per month as a married child life therapist without children. Fate delivered a fee of $30 to buy a baby shower gift and additional cost of $75 for cleaning her home that had been vandalized at a cost. Throughout the whole event, Cameron police officer Carey Strenke roamed and randomly handed out cards to students. Some received money from Crimestopper tips; however, many received tickets for traffic violations such as speeding and texting while driving and other miscellaneous violations such as disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. At the end of the event, once students are checked out and the bills have been paid, a survey is required. Many students wrote that they considered the event a good learning experience. Some said it taught them to continue their education and get a good job.