LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel Middle eighth-grade students received a dose of reality on Wednesday, March 20, when they were handed a career salary based upon their GPA and test scores. The Reality Store event is one of several Operation Preparation events hosted by the Laurel County School District to improve student's college and career readiness skills.
Students received a career, children, housing and a car. Many students found it was easier to afford a small apartment rather than a home, and sometimes, roommates help, too. Student Jared Gay soon discovered that it was cheaper to live with his friends than live alone. Instead of setting his sights on a shiny new Ferrari, he went the more economic route to save on gas.
"We gave them a better understanding of how they're going to have to focus in high school and really think about what their future could or could not be," said Linette McPhetridge, NLMS guidance counselor. "The kids' grades and performance on tests can impact their ability to get into college. Hopefully they've learned that higher education is often necessary — not always, but often necessary — for better pay increase."
Another student, Autumn Farmer received a job in human services. She made it a priority to provide shelter for her and her imaginary daughter and purchase insurance in case something happens.
"I thought it was a priority, but I didn't think it would be as necessary as it is," Farmer said. "I've learned that money doesn't go as far as we think it does."
Joyce Parker from the Laurel County PVA said most students were surprised they had to pay property and vehicle taxes.
But the largest expense for students was child care.
"They realized that children's day care was going to eat up their budget, and they can't sell their kids, so they had to re-adjust their budget," said Marsha Tipton, academic specialist.
Students Allie Robinson and Brionna Maggard learned how to budget the smart way and not make any frivolous purchases.
"You can't just go out and buy the things you want, I wanted a house not an apartment, but I have a three bedroom apartment. We are all sharing," Robinson said.
Both Robinson and Maggard said their goal is to attend college and receive an education in the medical field.
Youth Services Center Director Rachel Hyde said students discovered the reality that if they work really hard, meet their academic benchmarks, then they're on track for the ideal lifestyle of their choice.
The Laurel County School District's goal is to have 68 percent of students ready by the 2014-15 school year. To conclude Operation Preparation, a Career Fair will be hosted by North Laurel High on Thursday, April 18 for all high school students in the county from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.