Eighth graders participate in an interactive career planning activity

Taron Masi, Writer

The eighth graders of Andrew G. Schmidt. middle school have finished planning their “life” in the school’s annual Reality Store. The Reality Store is an activity for eighth grade students to explore financial planning, goal setting, decision making and career planning. Students identify their own career interests and receive a mock checkbook with a monthly income for the specific career. Students then visit booths manned by volunteers where they make financial choices and pay their monthly bills.

“Over the years we have tried to keep the jobs, costs and booths as close to reality as we can,” Reality Store director Denise Bakker said. “Hopefully it will help students understand that life costs a lot of money and that they need to have a job that will earn them enough money to live the way they would like to live. In order to acquire higher paying jobs, students need to know that they have good grades in high school so they can get accepted into college.”

Long before the students gather in the cafeteria to take part in the Reality Store, they gather information about their simulated lives while in their SRT’s. Students discover their job, family situation, pick a car and also chose a house. Everything that the students accomplish in the Reality Store gives them skills that will be needed once they reach adulthood.

“We were each given a card that gave us each our job,” eighth-grader Jessica Dunkel said. “Everyone’s job was based on the questions we answered for our EDP’s. We also get a card showing us our family plan, if we are married, what our spouse’s job is, how much they make, how many kids we have together and what their ages are. I ended up being a veterinarian making around $7,000 a month. My favorite part of the Reality Store was seeing what my future may end up looking like. I feel like I’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on in the real world once I get there because we actually learned about it in school.”

The Reality Store is an interactive event that allows the students to view first-hand what life is like on a monthly basis for adults with jobs and kids to look after. It helps prepare for the decisions that are going to be made regarding an education, career, family, housing, finance, health as well as fitness and community involvement.