Students learn costs associated with real life

KATHY COPELAND / Community Columnist 

Vincent/Harpersville

It seems that when The Shelby County Chamber brings “Keeping it Real” to Vincent Middle High School, it is raining and cold. Friday, Feb. 20-21 was no exception, but the rain did not keep the volunteers away or the students from having a good time while learning about real life money matters.

Pictured kneeling, Chloe Woodruff and standing is Caila Rivers. (Contributed)

“Keeping it Real” is a county-wide program designed to inspire students to think about the kinds of decisions associated with real life situations.

The program, hosted by the Chamber’s Career Readiness Work Group, is designed to give students opportunities to think about the actual cost of living day to day. Tables are set up around the school auditorium affording students an opportunity to make a choice or decision involving money.

There are tables where student choices result in earning money and tables where decisions cost money. “The students’ goal is to end their 30-day or monthly budgeting exercise with money in their account,” said Kirk Mancer, the Chamber’s CEO.

Once students are armed with worksheets assigning a life scenario, they begin visiting each table where they are greeted by a Chamber volunteer. Life scenarios include an assigned salary, job type and family status. Some are told they are single, some married with children, and some single parents.

Just like in real life, their monthly salary must cover their decisions about cars, housing, groceries and insurance which sometimes results in a student electing to get a second job.

Students quickly learned that their salary did not exactly provide for the type of car they wanted to drive, especially when the correlating insurance price tag was revealed. Cheers and groans are often heard from the “That’s Life” table where students spin a wheel to discover their life issue.  Groans for speeding tickets and flat tires and joyful shouts and clapping for a bonus at work or birthday money.

Dr. LaJuana Hamer, Career Coach with Shelby County Schools, said, “This is such great experience for our students; we really appreciate the volunteers that have come out today.”

The presenting sponsor for the two-day program was Thompson Tractor with co-sponsors America’s First Federal Credit Union and AT&T. Pari Barzegari, the Chamber’s Community & Career Development Manager said, “We have a great group of volunteers this year. Bryan Morrow with Central State Bank brought five volunteers that are passionate about this program and about our Shelby County students. Amazing. This program can’t exist without our volunteers.”

Kathy Copeland is a community columnist who writes about the Vincent/Harpersville area.