The Essex Intermediate School, in conjunction with the Essex 4H. held their reality store for eighth grade students during class on March 18. The store is meant to be a virtual reality for students in order to understand what life will be like once they are in charge of their finances and responsible for paying bills.
The students were given envelopes with fake money inside and an occupation written on the outside of the envelope which detailed whether they had children or pets. Once they were given the money they had to visit a table with a sign that said taxes on it to give what acted as their share out of their pay. Following that they were instructed to visit other tables, such as grocery, childcare, bank, utilities, housing, clothing and furniture as well as others, in order to pay for what was necessary for them to provide a living.
“They’ve got to make their money work for them, and if they can’t, there’s a [table] where they can go get a second job, third job, fourth job, to get that money,” said Stephanie stiles, 4-H’s program assistant. “Of course then they have to go put in more money to pay for child care and then we’ll see how they do.”
Stiles said the idea behind the store is to show the children that the more education they have, the more likely they are to make more money.
“Some kids, they end up working fifteen jobs and can’t figure it out at all and others do really well,” Stiles said. “You’ll hear the things the kids say like ‘I didn’t know having a dog cost so much money no wonder I can’t have one, I just thought my parents were mean.’”
Stiles said the store gives the students an appreciation for their parents and how hard they work.