SCHS students learn real life skills

The Keeping It Real program concluded at Shelby County High School at 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13. Through Keeping It Real, SCHS freshmen were able to learn about how to be financially responsible and handle real-life situations.

“This Keeping It Real program is something we’ve done for four years for ninth grade students to give them their first discussions of budgeting and what life costs,” said Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce President Kirk Mancer.

“We try to be in the schools, because [students] are our future workforce.”

Keeping It Real is a two-day program. On Thursday, Jan. 12, students saw a presentation about the program’s basic information and the importance of graduating high school.

“We give them statistics. Ninety percent of jobs in the U.S. require a high school diploma or some kind of job training,” said Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Director of Community and Investor Development Keyla Handley.

On Jan. 13, students spent a class period in the school’s gymnasium and toured different stations where they discussed things like paying for housing, transportation and utilities with volunteers.

Students said the program taught them valuable life lessons that they will carry with them in the future.

“They taught us how to maintain a good living style and how to keep your money so you don’t become bankrupt,” freshman Marli Odgers said. “It changed my perspective, because you can actually know what it’s like when you get older.”

Keeping It Real is a precursor for the Chamber’s Career Awareness Fair and the “Communication Matters” soft skills workshop.

The Keeping It Real program has been incorporated in high schools from Shelby County Schools, Alabaster City Schools and Pelham City Schools and some private schools since 2013.

University of Montevallo Career Coordinator Jahzmin Young said she has seen the program flourish within the past four years

“It started out through trial and error. It was a great idea, but we weren’t really sure how it was going to be perceived within the schools,” Young said. “Every year we continue, we get better.”

The program was hosted by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce and the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce. Keeping It Real was sponsored by Central State Bank and the UPS Store of Hoover.