THS freshmen get a feel for the real world

THS freshman Toni Williams, center, celebrates with her friend Torianna Mitchell, left, and Noah Galloway, right, at the "Keeping it Real" program at the school on Jan. 15. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

THS freshman Toni Williams, center, celebrates with her friend Torianna Mitchell, left, and Noah Galloway, right, at the “Keeping it Real” program at the school on Jan. 15. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Of all the expenses adults face in their lives every day, one stood out above all others for a group of Thompson High School freshmen who got a taste of life after high school on Jan. 15.

“Insurance, that was crazy. It’s so expensive,” said freshman Lily Hagemeyer, drawing agreement from her friends, Katharine Mandy and Holly Morgan.

The three girls and their ninth-grade peers took turns experiencing the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s “Keeping it Real” program in the THS auxiliary gym.

Through the program, which the GSCCC is hosting at all Shelby County high schools this school year, students are given a life scenario and are then tasked with balancing their expenses with their income.

GSCCC and community volunteers manned tables representing expenses such as insurance, housing, clothing and groceries – all which carried prices based on Shelby County’s market.

Students also were able to choose to seek higher education – which came with tuition costs – or a second job to add to their income.

THS career and technical teacher Katie Mantel said many of the students were unfamiliar with the expenses related with adult life before taking part in the program.

“They really don’t have any idea how much things cost,” Mantel said, noting many students chose to splurge on items such as luxury automobiles and designer clothes without budgeting for items such as insurance, groceries or child care. “I think it definitely helps them to appreciate their parents more.”

Noah Galloway, a local celebrity who has been featured on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, manned a popular booth called “That’s life.” At the booth, students were able to spin a wheel and land on unexpected expenses and monetary bonuses.

“One of them landed on a veterinary bill, and said, ‘But I don’t even have a dog,’” Galloway said with a laugh. “So I said, ‘Well, you must have done something to someone else’s dog and are having to cover the medical bill.’”

Mandy said she was planning to thank her parents when she got home from school.

“I’ve got to give it to my parents. I was shocked by the price of everything,” she said.