FSMS's eighth-grade class took some time out of the classroom for a lesson in life with the 4-H Reality Store, a financial/career planning program, on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The Simpson County Cooperative Extension Service, FSMS Youth Service Center and Franklin Bank and Trust Company partnered to sponsor the event, which has been held regularly for several years.

"It's an opportunity for students to simulate the real world as far paying their bills and other obligations," Guidance Counselor Mary Shipley said. "A student will choose a career they're interested in and be given a monthly salary as if it were their first few years."

From there, students took to the gym and were tasked to use their salaries to fund their ideal adult lifestyle. Booths represented expenses ranging from childcare to medical bills, and professionals from each industry also volunteered to run the stations.

"We try the best we can to recruit volunteers from that area so they can bring current prices and plans," Shipley said. "That makes it more real to the students and lets them ask questions about each expense."

The program also included "chance" cards drawn from a "crystal ball" to represent unplanned expenses, such as having to pay for a hospital visit, and an SOS table to offer solutions if students found themselves in financial trouble.

"One thing this program does is help students understand the value of an education," Simpson County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development Education Catherine Webster said. "A lot of them learned how expensive child care is, and many of them don't come into it concerned with costs of living or vehicles. They don't realize what it comes out to when you put it all together."

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