THS freshmen get a glimpse of the ‘real world’

Published 10:58 am Monday, January 28, 2019

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – After completing the Shelby County Chamber’s “Keeping it Real” program at Thompson High School on Jan. 25, freshmen Abby McGee, Savannah Nabors and Kayleigh Simpson said they had some eye-opening revelations about life after high school.

“It was fun, but I didn’t expect things to cost that much,” McGee said as she sat on the bleachers in the school’s auxiliary gym with her two friends after completing the program. “It was definitely eye-opening. You start out with money, but it can go down so fast.”

THS Career Coach Niva Roberson was also quick to point out another lesson from the program.

“Does it make you appreciate your parents a little more?” Roberson asked the girls.

“Yes ma’am,” the three said in unison.

Through the Keeping it Real program, the Shelby County Chamber visits all public and private high schools in Shelby County throughout the academic year to give the kids a hands-on lesson on living on their own after high school ends.

During the Keeping it Real programs, the chamber and community volunteers manned tables representing expenses such as insurance, housing, transportation, 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.

Many of the students, after receiving their initial paychecks for the month, rushed to the transportation table to purchase a high-end sports car, but quickly returned to seek a less expensive option after accounting for expenses such as child care and rent.

Roberson said the program is a “great partnership” with the Shelby County Chamber stretching back several years.

“I do think they leave here today with a better appreciation for their parents,” Roberson said with a laugh, noting the Chamber also hosted a session called “Communication matters” the day before touching on smart use of social media. “We are trying to be sure they are prepared to go in whatever path they want to out of high school and be successful at it.”