Pocahontas Students To Get Lesson In Economics of Real Life

Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County 7th graders from Green Bank and Marlinton Middle schools will get a stark lesson in the economics of real life when they take part in a Get A Life reality simulation at Marlinton Middle School in early December. Linda Hawkins, Director of School Financial Education programs for the West Virginia State Treasurers’ Office, explains what the simulation is.

“This gives students a chance to experience the real world” says Hawkins. “The day they walk into the gym, they’re going to be given a job description that has a minimum of education, is a minimum wage job, and they have their family assigned to them. Some of them are married, some of them are single, some of them are divorced, widowed, whatever; some of them have children, some don’t. I know that the ones that wind up with six children say you know, I never planned on having six children in my whole life.”

Hawkins says some kids have even asked if they could trade a couple of children for other things – she politely tells them no, that’s not how the game works. The 7th graders will do some budgeting exercises and watch some videos in the classroom prior to the exercise. Hawkins says in addition to a family, the kids also get a monthly budget sheet showing the families income and expenses.

“So they walk in the gym and we’ve given them a list of things that they have to go buy” she says. “There’s a table that has people working at it that’s the house table; there’s a car-vehicle sales table, there’s a utility table, there is the mall where they have to buy furniture. They have a grocery table, they have a medical table; they have a fuel table.”

All the tables are staffed by volunteers from the community. Hawkins says kids have to buy a house based on the size of their family and the houses range from dilapidated to McMansions. Then they go to the car table.

“Boy do we have some cars” says Hawkins. “We tell the people working the car table, tell the kids, you are what you drive and convince them. Because we’re telling everyone, you’re working these tables, you’re on commission. Are you worried about the kids making minimum wage or are you worried about your family? An so they’ll sell those cards to the kids, and then of course they go over the to the fuel table and they go it costs how much a month to drive this car?”

Kids are faced with similar choices at the other tables like being tempted with a big screen TV or a Wii system when they go to buy furniture. Hawkins says the event is an eye-opening experience for the students. She’s also received a few interesting comments from kids in other counties.

“I’ve had one from Wyoming County, she said This is not the lifestyle that I want – I’m going to divorce this man and marry a coal miner [so] I can live the life I want to then” she says. “We had one that said she was going to be a trophy wife; she didn’t have to worry about this. The counselor said okay we’re going to talk to that child seriously.”

The Get A Life Reality simulation is the brainchild of the West Virginia State Chamber of Commerce. Hawkins says they’ve done this exercise in 15 West Virginia counties so far, and they hope to hold exercises in the other 40 counties by June of next year.

The Pocahontas County exercise is Tuesday, December 7th at Marlinton Middle School and runs from 9 to 10:30am. Hawkins says they still need a few table workers and training will be provided. If you’d like to volunteer or would like more information, you can contact Melissa Hill-Doss at Marlinton or Julie Brown at Green Bank.

Marlinton Middle School
Melissa Hill-Doss, 304-799-6773 or mdoss@frontiernet.net

Green Bank Middle School
Julie Brown, 304-456-4865 or j.e.brown@access.k12.wv.us

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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