"[The Reality Store] has been great," Cartersville Superintendent Howard Hinesley said Monday at the CHS event. "The feedback we've been getting is very positive and we're very excited about it."
The event, coordinated by Cartersville Schools Foundation President Lisa Bell and sponsored by GACHE, involved freshmen going to more than 10 booths with volunteers who show pricing standards and options in areas like housing, dining and entertainment while also touching on necessities like transportation and childcare.
Charissa Pritchett of Professional Realty Group volunteered at the housing table.
"[Students] are assigned a job with their yearly annual income and their monthly income, and they're also assigned how many children they have and the ages of their children, so when they get to us we ask them if they want to buy a house or rent an apartment," Pritchett said.
Students had to take into account their housing options in relation to family members and also were faced with buying homeowner's or renter's insurance.
"It's pretty foreign to them to think 'I have to put my kids in a bedroom other than mine,'" Pritchett said.
Students also learned that the price of dining can sometimes be hard to swallow, facing three tiers of groceries that ranged from items like canned vegetables and hamburger to fresh vegetables and finer cut meats. Kim Kappel, director of The Resource Center, showed students their options at the Canes' Mart.
"It's very interesting to watch the range because all the guys say, 'I want a steak,'" Kappel laughed, adding some students were more prepared for grocery shopping. "... A couple [have] come through and said, 'I'm all about the coupons.'"
Over at the entertainment table, CHS Parent Teacher Committee member Brenda Brubaker went over the pricing options on how the future adults could spend their free time.
She said students had to make decisions like choosing to either take their spouse to dinner or going to a basketball game with the kids. However, she said the area students have shown the most interest in vacation choices.
"Everyone thinks they're going to [Walt Disney World], but then they realize they have four kids and that its a lot [of money] to put away every month, they say, 'OK, I'm going to Gatlinburg,'" Brubaker said.
Cody Martin, married, was one of the more fortunate students with his career path, being assigned the job of cardiovascular technician with the income of $42,300 a year, despite not having prior knowledge about the profession.
"I think I'll have a little bit left over to have a good life," Martin said with a smile as he walked past the Canes Bank & Trust booth.
Kiana Duke, single, wasn't as lucky as Martin, being assigned the position of nuclear medicine technician with a salary of $30,893. She said watching housing TV shows gave her an idea of the cost of renting or owning, but was still shocked by the other expenses.
"I've learned that living by yourself is extremely expensive," Duke said. "You have to deal with your own things, your own apartment, utilities, car, gas -- it's just overwhelming pretty much."
In the fall, Woodland High School utilized the Reality Store. Students at Adairsville High School and Cass High School also will participate in the event at a later time this semester.