Meridian High School students get a reality check

Bianca Moorman / The Meridian Star

Matthew Sillimon speaks to Holli Cobb, counselor at Meridian Freshman Academy during Thursday's reality check event at Meridian High School. 

Ninth grader Shrishti Srivastava got a good dose of reality on Thursday. 

Srivastava was one of many students taking part in a reality check at Meridian High School, an event offering students a glimpse of life after high school. Students were assigned different jobs, with their incomes based on education. As far as family makeup, students were either single, married, had kids or no kids. 

As students chose from life experience cards, unexpected circumstances could arise, such as getting a speeding ticket or earning an inheritance from a family member.

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Srivastava's job was a sports marketing agent, and her spouse was not working.  Her focus was on necessities, like spending $400 a month on health insurance and choosing to pay $60 a month on a bus pass rather than getting a car.

But after shopping at the grocery store, Srivastava realized that she forgot to find somewhere to live. Before going to look for an apartment, she was stuck with a $150 speeding ticket. With rent costing her $650, she realized that life was becoming more expensive than she expected, so she found a night job working at a pizza shop.

By the end of the day, Srivastava didn’t have enough money left over for fun or designer clothes, but she was okay with her decisions, because she took care of her needs.

“I'm  glad that I didn’t spend my money on things I wanted to do,” said Srivastava.

The young woman thought she'd be earning a lot of money as an adult, but realized during the event that that's not how the world really works.  

“I’m glad I did this because it’s an eye opener,” she said.

MHS counselor Holli Cobb said the event was targeted at ninth graders because they want them to think about financial literacy, graduating from high school, going to college or technical school and getting a job. Fellow counselor Regina Wheaton    hoped the event showed students the importance of getting an education.

“A lot of them would say, 'I didn’t know kids were so expensive'," said Wheaton.

Mallory Pace, a volunteer from Rush Foundation Hospital, was in charge of the auto booth, where many students expected to buy a new car. But Pace had to tell some no, because of their income.

“It was a real life experience, that you cannot get what you want,” Pace said. 

Xzavieon Sidny, whose salary as a chemist was $51,125, learned about choosing what he needed over what he wanted. He was single and had no children, but chose to focus on important things like rent.

“When you don’t have the money, you don’t have to have it,” said Sidny.

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