PHS ninth-graders learn life skills through ‘Keeping it Real’
Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM— How expensive are average monthly house payments? What does weekly daycare cost? How much does the average person spend on groceries every month? Pelham High School ninth-graders can answer these questions and more after they participated in the Greater Shelby County Chamber’s “Keeping it Real” program Feb. 8.
Using Shelby County incomes and careers, each student went from station to station selecting housing, insurance and transportation based on a monthly budget. With high incomes hitting $3,000 a month, PHS career coach Isabelle Eaton said the students learned some real-life lessons.
“They can learn to see any mistakes they may make now with budgeting. It’s a lot better to do it on paper in ninth grade,” Eaton said. “They have no clue how life is. I think that is a very fair thing to say.”
The program begins with a Day One session that prepares the students for the hands on activity. Eaton said expectations were “widely unrealistic” with estimated housing costs from $100 a month to $5,000 a month.
When they went over the cost of childcare, Eaton said many of the students were shocked at how expensive it was.
Chamber volunteers work each of the booths where students make choices based on their incomes. The booths include essentials, such as groceries, utilities and insurance, as well as leisure expenditures such as clothes and televisions.
There is also a “That’s Life” wheel that Eaton refers to as the “Wheel of Destiny.” Students spin the wheel and either something good happens or something bad. Options range from getting a $500 tax return to getting a $250 speeding ticket.
“They like the hands on part of it,” she said. “I think they like having community members here who are really interested in what they are doing, and, like I said, they have hoot doing things like doing the ‘Wheel of Destiny.’ One of those things is going to happen to you. It’s good for them to see what realistic expectations are.”
Bradley Tadeo said he enjoyed getting to participate in the activity, and that he had an idea of how expensive the real world would be. He was assigned the career of a pharmacy aide.
The most surprising thing to him was how expensive his housing payments were. He said they were “really bringing me down on my monthly budget.”
“It’s better for us to be prepared than to go in not knowing anything,” he said. “Obviously this might not be me, a pharmacy aide, but it’s nice to have a plan to know what to do.”