Area high school seniors get a dose of real life at “Reality 101” event


Area high school seniors participate in Reality 101 ... Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon sponsored Reality 101, which was held at the Waukon High School for all area schools March 20. Nearly 170 Kee High School, Postville High School, MFL/MarMac High School and Waukon High School graduating seniors were able to attend. Over 80 individuals and businesses volunteered their time to create a real life financial scenario for all of these students preparing for graduation. The students were required to visit each of the 30 stations (some of which are pictured in the photos above and farther below) to open a bank account, pay their taxes, purchase an automobile and insurance, pay for daycare, groceries, a home, household supplies, vet expenses, health and life insurance, and still have a balance of $0 to $200 in their checking account when finished. Submitted photos.

Nearly 170 graduating seniors from Postville, Kee, MFL/MarMac and Waukon High Schools attended “Reality 101” at the Waukon High School Wednesday, March 20. Over 80 individuals and businesses volunteered their time to create a real life financial scenario for all of these students preparing for graduation.

Each student chose a career and researched monthly income based on average northeast Iowa wages in the classroom setting prior to the activity. The day of Reality 101, the students were provided with a life scenario which may include a spouse, children and possibly even child support situations, including the information they provided on their chosen career and college plans. The students were then required to visit each of the 30 stations to open a bank account, pay their taxes, purchase an automobile and insurance, pay for daycare, groceries, household supplies, vet expenses, health and life insurance, etc.

They were also visited by a roaming officer who issued many tickets for traffic violations, and a roaming nurse who had to charge full price for medical services to any students who had not elected to purchase health insurance.  In addition, they were also dealt fate cards that caused them even additional out of pocket expenses due to fictitious scenarios such as broken water pipes or vehicle repair - all things that can and do unexpectedly happen in real life.

The students had to balance their checkbooks and prove they had a positive balance in order to exit the event. Those with a negative balance had to visit the “SOS” table and brainstorm ways to get themselves out of debt.

“This year we were very fortunate to have an abundance of volunteers asking to be a part of Realty 101 because they enjoy being involved so much,” states Cheryl Livingston, Event Coordinator. “The numerous dynamics in the program and how the students respond to them make it fun and interesting to watch as a volunteer. Most all students really get into their life scenarios and play the part well. It was enjoyable to see the program run so smoothly this year.”

The students were asked to fill out evaluations following their experience. The following are some of their comments on the impact of the Reality 101 program:

• “I was surprised how much Uncle Sam took from my check in the beginning.”
• “I have a good idea of what things will cost in the future.”
• “Children take too much money. Daycare is so expensive.”
• “Life is expensive.”
• “I was surprised by the amount of expenses accrued in a month. I learned about budgeting different aspects of my life.”
• “I thought I would have had enough money for the month, but it turns out I didn’t.”
• “I learned the benefits of having insurance and the money it will save you by buying it.”
• “You don’t realize how much things cost and how fast they add up. We have learned we need to know our accounts and keep them balanced.”

Many of the businesses helping with the event go to the work of providing real-life costs of their products and services ahead of time so these students can “purchase” items at today’s prices, relevant to other purchases students made through the day.  For example, utility prices were specific to the Housing selections available, making the event as realistic as possible.

Participating businesses and organizations this year included the following:  Torkelson’s of Waukon, Cook Insurance Agency, Fidelity Bank and Trust, Freedom Bank, Waukon State Bank, Farmers and Merchants Savings Bank, Kerndt Brothers Bank, Growing Bear Daycare, Waukon Lion’s Club, RW Pladsen, Inc., Edward Jones, Allamakee Substance Abuse Prevention, TASC, Sweeney Real Estate, Farm Bureau Insurance, Kitchen Krafts, ISU Extension, NICC, Waukon Police Department, Allamakee County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Works, Waukon Harley Davidson, Allamakee County Auditor’s Office, Allamakee County Treasurer’s Office, Iowa and Allamakee County Courts, Allamakee Community School District and many Veterans Memorial Hospital volunteer Auxiliary members, Foundation members, and volunteer Greeters as well as staff volunteers.

This event is sponsored by Veterans Memorial Hospital. Allamakee Community Schools graciously allows the event for all of these area schools to be held in their high school gymnasium each year, with assistance from Waukon High School Guidance Counselor Amy Wasson, Waukon High School Secretaries Erin Plein and Rachel Burrichter, and the school’s janitorial staff.

For more information on Reality 101 or to volunteer to be involved in next year’s event, call Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411.
 

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