By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
All of the eighth-graders at Great Bend Middle School spent the entire school day on Wednesday learning what life will be like when they become adults. The United Way of Central Kansas brought a program into the school called Reality U to teach the students about the impact of the decisions they will be making when they grow up.
The students filled out a lifestyle survey before the event. It included questions about what they thought their occupation will be and if they planned to get married and have children. Based on that information, they participated in an exercise on Wednesday where they visited twelve booths to purchase products and services that adults typically purchase.
Steve Lunsford, an agent with State Farm Insurance in Great Bend, was at the booth where the students decided what kind of insurance to buy.
"They’re learning how much insurance costs every month and how their decisions can affect that; if they end up getting a speeding ticket, how it’s an extra $100 a month or texting and driving, how those decisions can influence how much it costs them every month,” Lunsford said.
Some of the other booths the students visited included housing, utilities, automobiles, clothing, banking and childcare. At the end of one session, the students told Middle School Counselor Sheryl Neeland that they learned that groceries and childcare can be very expensive. One student said he learned that you don’t buy a Porsche as your first car. He had to trade the car in when he ran out of money.
Gaila Demel, United Way’s Executive Director, explained what she hoped the eighth graders would take away from the event.
"I’m sure for most of them, it’s the first time that they’ve really even seen this or understand now,” Demel said. “Giving them that perspective, we hope what the students do, they go home and have a visit about this at the dinner table this evening.”
The students also attended sessions hosted by Barton Community College and Barton County Juvenile Services. They also viewed a video about the realities of high school put together by Great Bend High School students. A number of local businesses provided funding and volunteers for the event.