Marshfield Middle School Reality Store prepares students for financial future
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Area eighth-grade students were able to experience what life after learning might feel like during the Marshfield Middle School-sponsored Reality Store held April 11 in the school’s gym.
For the event, students are given one of 60 careers as well as a salary, benefits, marital status, and children and then must balance their finances given a variety of circumstances, such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, groceries, child care, investments, benefits, and charitable contributions before considering the luxuries available to them.
Trinity Lutheran student Ayva James, who was assigned a career as an optometrist, explained the concept, “So you get your monthly salary, (and my position) pays kind of well, so I got to go around and buy a bigger house because I have five in my family, and then you get your vehicles and everything.
“Since I am married and have older kids, I have to get two cars, and they have to be big enough to fit all of the children. Then clothing and groceries, you have to spend more and more. … Life is expensive.”
St. Joseph Catholic School student Miranda Schneider, who is interested in the medical field, chose a career as a pediatrician. “I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I thought it would be more difficult. It was easier than I thought it would be,” Schneider said. “(I learned) just to manage my money.”
This was the 13th year for the event that ushers two sections of Marshfield eighth-graders as well as visiting students from Marshfield Columbus Catholic, Pittsville, Marshfield’s Trinity Lutheran, and Stratford’s St. Joseph Catholic for approximately 400 participants.
Marshfield Business Systems teacher Dan Akin said that though some people may think it might be a little early for this type of life lesson, the Reality Store fits within the current curriculum and gets students thinking about finances at a transitional time in the education process.
“Basically, what they do is they try to figure out how much they spend after you take out taxes,” said Akin. “They go through the whole calculations, and then they have so much money to spend in the store.
“It’s a process. They only have a couple of hours to do this. This meshes perfectly with our Career Quest class that we have at Marshfield Middle School, so the kids have been working on this a couple of days.
“You hear that they talk to their parents about this project. It might open up some dialogue with their mom and dad. … Their eyes are open for a little bit.”