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Reality Store presents eye-opening experience

Students learn how much they owe in utilities Thursday during their visit to the Reality Store in the Shelbyville Middle School gymnasium.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

The annual Reality Store at Shelbyville Middle School was a real eye-opener for some Shelby County students Thursday.

Learning the reality that expenses can pile up, seventh-grade students from all five county middle and junior high schools grew to understand that, in all likelihood, they won’t be able to immediately buy a BMW or other expensive amenities after they’re done with their education.

“Life is hard,” Zach Barker said when asked what he learned.

During his time going through, he said he was blamed in the exercise for breaking into a neighbor’s house. He said he also lost $750.

Students started by learning what career they had based on their grades.

They then went to tables set up in the middle school gymnasium where they learned how much they owed for monthly bills and other costs such as child care and food. As in years past, there also was a station for law enforcement.

Kaylynn Clark said she thought the exercise would be more realistic. She expected to be given actual money.

“(I learned) how when you get older, it can get rough,” she said.

However, Ainsley Balaska came away with more money than she expected. She learned that frugality helps in the long run.

“Sometimes you have to go for cheaper stuff,” she said, explaining that she bought cheaper items such as a used car.

Gayle Henderson of the Business of Professional Women, which puts the event together, said they were expecting 558 local students to go through the exercise.

She said she had students tell her they were surprised with where their money went.

“The money doesn’t go where they think it will,” she said.

Carolyn Austin, also from BPW and was working at the snack station, said they had been “busy” all morning.

“It seems to get smoother every year,” she said.