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Mock City Gives South Jordan Middle School Students Perception of Reality

Dec 08, 2015 01:31PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

South Jordan - Reality Town is just that — a mock city where ninth-grade students have a chance to know what it is like to hold a job, be a student, be a parent, pay the bills. 

About 520 South Jordan Middle School students got insight into that reality Oct. 7 as their gym transformed into a mock city, complete with housing, transportation, grocery stores, doctors, insurance agencies, utilities, entertainment and more.

“Most kids did really well,” counselor Spencer Young said. “This allows kids to be familiar with the cost of living and understanding when a parent says ‘No’ to something they want, why that is and how much that costs. It also is a big lesson in them thinking about what happens after school, and how well they do in schooling affects their jobs and lives.”

To illustrate the last point, students with the higher grade-point averages could select from more careers and see the greater variety offered to them in jobs than those with lower GPAs, Young said.

However, their life scenarios of being married, single, raising children, being a student versus working full-time, were assigned randomly.

“From there, they all had to work with their situation — how much money they were earning to how much they were spending. We averaged out real jobs’ actual salaries so our students would understand the money in today’s world and realize how much taxes are taken out of an annual salary, how much housing costs whether you rent an apartment or own a house,” he said.

After receiving a checkbook, students needed to visit all the required places such as housing, utilities, insurance and others. Then, students could decide if they had money for optional activities such as owning a pet, going out to eat and to the movies or buying expensive name brand clothing, or purchasing clothes that will be suitable for their career.

“Students did get an extra $100 if they dressed their profession, so we had students in medical scrubs, athletic clothing and even some students actually doing hair styles during Reality Town,” Young said.

Many students still talk about how expensive things are that they weren’t aware of before, he said.

“They had no clue how much things cost or how their families considered where they lived, such as if it’s a safe neighborhood or if it is affordable even if one parent loses a job,” Young said.

Before Reality Town, students were to make a list of jobs they were interested in, as well as file an application. They also were instructed on how to use a checkbook and were advised to put aside savings instead of spending it all. 

During the activity, students could fill out their Reality Town booklet that asked them to explain their experience and what they learned. There also were informal discussions that followed.

About 120 parent volunteers, community members and local businesses helped to provide breakfast as well as staff the booths.

“This is a great opportunity for students to learn so much. We have a lot of community support to help us make it a successful event,” Young said.    

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