KCS students learn about life after school

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Kingwood Christian School ninth-graders Hope Seitz and Jackson Mills provided the same answer simultaneously when asked what adult expense they were most surprised by after going through the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s “Keeping it Real” program on Oct. 12.

“Childcare,” the two students said in unison.

“The cost of childcare really surprised me,” Mills added.

Despite having a bit of sticker shock on the expenses adults deal with on a daily basis, Seitz, Mills and their classmates Sarah Robinson and Peyton Lawrence successfully finished the exercise with a positive balance – Something several of their classmates could not claim.

“How many of you ended up with a negative number?” Chamber President Kirk Mancer asked at the end of the program as about six hands shot up.

When Mancer asked how the students could avoid ending up in the red at the end of the month, the responses ranged from staying in school and working to obtain a good job to “marrying rich,” which drew plenty of laughter from the group.

Through the Chamber’s Keeing it Real program, community volunteers man several stations in a school gym, auditorium or cafeteria representing various facets of adult life, such as education, insurance, child care, transportation and more. The cost associated with each station is based on actual numbers from the Shelby County market.

Before the exercise begins, each student is assigned a life scenario outlining their level of education, family situation and income. By visiting the stations, the kids are able to practice balancing their income with their expenses, and have the choice to improve their income by investing in education or other training.

While the program is designed for ninth graders who still have a few more years of high school left, the program is intended to get them thinking about the future, said KCS Principal Ruth Gray.

“This program really brings reality to life. I think it makes them appreciate their parents and the sacrifices they make a little more,” Gray said. “But mostly, it makes them think about the choices they will have to make in their lives soon.”

After completing the exercise, the program seemed to have hit its mark.

“It definitely shows you the importance of responsibility, and how to distinguish between wants and needs,” Mills said.

“Just because you want something doesn’t mean you need it,” Robinson said.