Letter to the Editor

8th graders get dose of reality

Friday, October 22, 2010

To the Editor:

On Columbus Day, Oct. 11, approximately 520 students from the six 8th grades of Putnam County middle schools, Dr. Collins, and Eminence (plus home schooled) were given a unique educational opportunity to "experience reality." This annual event was called Reality Experience of 2010. It was sponsored by three service clubs of Greencastle: Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary; plus two philanthropic sororities: Kappa Delta Phi and Delta Theta Tau; and the Key Club at ResCare.

The schools helped each student select from a list of potential careers with approximate incomes. When they arrived at community building of the fairgrounds, the students first learned how their income was drastically reduced by "taxes," and then set up bank accounts with a "check register." Then they learned how their decisions on family size, housing, transportation, insurance, food, clothing, furniture, healthcare, etc. affected their standards of living. They also learned the cost or risk for making choices such as DUI or other legal problems, or having accidents or being lucky enough to win the lottery. With "money" left in their accounts, they could plan a cruise or settle on renting a video.

These 8th graders completed their experience by learning of community involvement, new career opportunities and finally by voting on a current issue. This year they were asked if they felt cell phone/texting use should be illegal while driving. Nearly three out of five voted in favor of such a law.

On behalf of all the students and over 100 volunteers, we wish to thank the following for their financial support: the sponsoring clubs and sororities, First National Bank, North Salem State Bank and Tri-County Bank. The food/snacks for workers and students were donated by Lions, Monical's, and a new sponsor, Humble Pie. Thanks to all!

The sponsors wish to thank the community's volunteers and to give special thanks to the teachers and advisors that prepared the students and guided them through the experience. I wish to add a personal "thank-you" to Barbara Ashworth, who continued as our school coordinator/liaison for the past decade.

Feedback from the volunteers, students, teachers and advisors has been very positive. Some have commented that the lessons learned that day awakened students to their need for education and wise money management. Also an appreciation of their parents maybe? A counselor also commented that "Indiana law requires that all students in grades 6 through 12 have instruction in personal financial responsibility. The Reality Experience helps us meet this requirement."

The service clubs and sororities continue to believe that the hard work and dedication of all those involved was well spent, and we look forward to continuing to host this annual event.

Jim Maxwell, Chairman

Reality Experience of Putnam County