Reality Town Prepares GRHS Seniors for Real World

Reality Town Prepares GRHS Seniors for Real World

Green River High School seniors head into Reality Town to get practice with financial situations they will come across in their adult lives. SweetwaterNOW photo by Steph Peterson

GREEN RIVER — The Green River and Rock Springs branches of Trona Valley Federal Credit Union brought Reality Town to Green River High School seniors last Monday.

The Reality Town program offers financial skills for real life situations such as earning monthly incoming and paying monthly bills. This was the first year students have been offered the Reality Town program.

“Reality Town was a super cool experience for not only myself but for us as seniors,” GRHS senior Destyni German told SweetwaterNOW. “I think we all had our doubts at first, but we were pleasantly surprised by the overall outcome. Reality Town was a way for us to get a small glimpse into what we will see in the future and the obstacles we will need to overcome.”

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While the program is often offered to junior high students, Melanie Hutchinson, Compliance Officer at Trona Valley, told SweetwaterNOW the credit union wanted to bring it to the senior class as they are the next ones heading out into the real world. The program often uses students’ GPA to place them into a job, and the higher the GPA, the higher the income. However, Trona Valley put this event together quickly this year so they gave every student the same scenario and let them make decisions based off of their given salary and home situation.

“When we walked into Reality Town, we were handed a booklet that told us what our profession was, how many kids we had, what our spouses did for work, if they worked, if they helped with the kids, and our monthly income. We then went over to the bank station and were handed four checks and a (fake) debit card,” German said.

At the next two stations the students had to buy or rent a house and buy a car. Hutchinson said that some students will buy their dream car but then quickly realize that they can’t make their payments, or now have no money to buy groceries or pay their bills. Making these decisions teaches the students the difference between a need and a want, Hutchinson said.

SweetwaterNOW photo by Steph Peterson

“We were able to see how the cost of something that is so little in perspective is much more than most of us think,” German said.

German said that they were then able to go around to different stations, which acted as the bills they needed to pay or the essentials for adult life and support a family.

“Some stations didn’t let you use your card, so you had to know how to write a check,” she said. “One of the stations explained that there was a 5% interest rate if we used our card. Both of these were good ways to show us how to write and use a check if we didn’t know how, and also how sometimes using a card isn’t the best option.”

Hutchinson said that students had the option to get a second job if they needed.

“They also showed us how money doesn’t necessarily go as far as you think it will. This resulted in many of us needing to get a second or possibly a third job to support our families,” German said.

Hutchinson said that Reality Town aligns with Trona Valley’s foundation where they do financial literacy for youth.

“This is to set them up for financial success,” Hutchinson said.

SweetwaterNOW photo by Steph Peterson

German said the seniors appreciated the program as it gave them a chance to experience real life challenges before they had to face them head on in the real world.

“Overall, I think that Reality Town was an awesome experience for us as seniors. It helped show what we would be needing to do in the near future. Reality Town was helpful because it showed us things we normally wouldn’t get until we were faced with the challenge itself,” German said. “Reality Town was a good preparation and experience for us. I also think it was super awesome of Trona Valley Federal Credit Union for putting this event together.”

Trona Valley plans to put this event on every year on Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day when the bank is closed to customers. For more photos from Reality Town, see below.