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MERRILLVILLE | Pierce’s eighth graders learned about real life while going thru the Reality Store sponsored by The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce on 18 March 2015. The 537 8th grade Students started off with a paycheck, checkbook, and $2,000.00 in a saving’s account. The paycheck sub included the student’s job, salary, marital status, and number of children.

Students made their way through “life” to buy a house, car, insurance, pay for utility bills, and maybe go on a vacation. Choices had to be made if they wanted to buy expensive or basic purchases. The last stop was the “Reality Check”. At the Reality Check table each student picked a card. Each card had something different on it that represented unexpected events in life. Some inherited a windfall of money after an aunt passed away and some had their house burn down. Depending on what choices the student made during the event decided if they would come out ahead at the end of the day. Example: If students who had their house burn down and they bought insurance earlier in the day they would not be broke at the end of the event.

The day was about the choices we make in life. If the student choses to do good in school, get a job, will he/she be able to live within their means?

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Travis Babbitt’s job was a Police Officer and he came out ahead, with money in his saving’s account! He stated the Reality Store was “fun, very educational, and put things into perspective”. “Having a checkbook, making choices, and having to pay bills made it feel real.” “If my girlfriend became my wife and we had a child, would I be able to support my family? The store gave me a sense of realization”. Travis had bought insurance earlier in the day and had savings, so when he picked “your house burnt down card”, he ended the day with a positive outcome.

“Really was lots of fun. I realized what I need to do to prepare me when I get older. I should save money. Really realistic. Felt like I got an insight to real life. I ended with $52.00 in my savings account!” were Angelay Woods comments.

Many people in the community gave up their work day to volunteer in the Reality store. We want to thank them for their time, so our students could get a taste of life.

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Digital News Director

Laura is the digital news director at The Times. She spends her time watching analytics, keeping tabs on social media, creating graphics, etc. The Lansing native and Columbia College Chicago grad has been with The Times since 2012. No relation to Lois.