Elkin Middle School eighth graders got a dose of reality Friday.
The “Reality Store” was designed by Barbara Long of the Elkin Career and Technical Education program five years ago. Long said she first heard of the concept at a workshop and thought the idea would be useful in Elkin.
Long, Kimberly Parks, and Patsy Burgess were in charge of the store. In it, eighth graders were given a hard look at what they can expect from taxes, salaries, and necessary and unnecessary expenditures.
Students were given a checkbook with a random amount of money written on the front. The students were then required to use the number as their yearly salary amount and deduct the appropriate amount of taxes from it. Divided by 12 months, the students had a monthly salary to use on the following day.
On Friday the students rolled two dice. One determined their marital status: married, single, divorced with custody, etc. The second die gave the number of children each student was responsible for. Only one side had zero, so students were likely to have one or more children to care for.
With the power of money and choice in their hands, students were turned loose to roam the Elkin High media center and visit various booths with options for spending their “hard earned” cash.
Tables labeled utilities, transportation, clothing, personal grooming, medical insurance, entertainment, groceries, housing, and child care were scattered around the room. One table, “life chances” was situated in front of the library’s help desk. Here students could win the lottery, lose money through bad luck, and other random occurrences that could befall an adult.
Students were helped by a volunteer assigned to each table. Community members Jenny Byrd, Mark Barden, Becky Burchette, Barbara Long, Barbara’ husband Steve Long, Aileen Cahill, John Cahill, Gina Peterson, Page Jackson and Joe McCulloch helped the students determine which of a large range of options was right for their budget.
Some notable options included a Lexus, Ford or bicycle for transportation, and either a free day at the library for entertainment or a night out at a steakhouse.
Barbara Long explained that, although students are required to take out taxes from their yearly salary and learn about the rigors of a real checking account balance, some items are left out for simplicity sake.
Like the tax-free lottery.
Taylor McKnight won the store’s $1 million lottery ticket, and thanks to Long’s generous rules was able to keep the entire amount without owing Uncle Sam anything.
Long said that winning the lottery was not something everyone would experience so there was no need in getting too realistic.
“I won the lottery, and I am super excited,” McKnight said as her classmates yelled across the room to her, asking for favors as their own bank accounts began to dwindle.
To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.