CHESTERTON | On April 16, 550 Duneland middle school students from St. Patrick’s, Chesterton Middle School, and the Discovery Charter School received a wake-up call during the Duneland Chamber of Commerce 8th Grade Reality Store. This annual event was coordinated by the Chamber’s Partners in Education Committee – a working group composed of community volunteers, Chamber staff, and partners from the Duneland School Corporation.
Held at Chesterton High School gymnasium, the Reality Store cast a stark light on the financial realities of life after graduation. At the outset, students were assigned occupations and salaries in keeping with their academic performance (i.e., GPAs). After receiving their salaries, students visited a series of 17 booths where they received deductions for monthly and annual expenses, such as taxes, transportation, recreation, and health insurance.
While the students’ starting salaries were linked to academic performance, many opportunities existed for changes in fortune as students interacted with “ping pong balls of chance” at booths which dealt out DUIs, unexpected funeral expenses, lottery winnings, surprise inheritances, and the number of children each student would have – and if they would have to pay for childcare, or could benefit from family member help.
At the end of their Reality Store circuits, students were sent to either financial planners or bankruptcy counselors, depending on the remaining balance in their accounts. “This is a real eye-opener for many students,” said June Russell, the Chamber’s staff member who leads the Partners in Education Committee. “We consistently receive reports from teachers that after this event, many students decide they should start trying harder in school in order to secure higher paying jobs or college admission after graduation.”
Those interested in learning more about Chamber events should contact the Duneland Chamber of Commerce at (219) 926-5513 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.dunelandchamber.org.