Students get a look at real life in Reality Town

WHEATLAND – Wheatland High School sponsored a Job Fair at the Old Junior High last Friday, but this fair had a new twist – an added simulation game brought in by Laramie County Community College.

“Reality Town” is a program that LCCC has the exclusive license to administer though-out the state of Wyoming. As the kids come in the building they are handed a booklet. Each booklet gives them their age, marital status, number of children, what job they currently have and their salary. Then they are directed to different “stations.” 

The first station is the bank, where they can set up an account and get their checks so they can pay all their bills. Then they have to find a place to rent, buy a vehicle, pay for insurance, medical bills, utilities, phone, groceries, etc. The stations were manned by different businesses from Wheatland.

“It’s a cool take on a career fair,” said senior Charity May. “It’s like a simulation. I like it, but I don’t like who I am. I don’t have a good job and my husband stays at home and uses the car, and I still have to buy a car to get to my job. Why does he need one?”

At each station, volunteers not only explained their options and gave advice, but also explained how to write checks and fill out the check register in their booklets and reminding them of all the other bills they have to pay in a month.

Rick Keck was manning the Town of Wheatland table and was also in charge of what the kids owed for their utilities. He talked about a student who came up to pay what she owed in utilities. When he told her the amount, she didn’t have enough money, but she wrote a check for the amount anyway. So, then Keck explained that if she overdraws her bank account, she will have to pay an additional fee to the bank. She was completely shocked that the bank would do that. He went on to explain that if you don’t have the money, you have to downsize your living expenses. This really was an eye-opening experience for these teenagers that are about to enter “the real world.”

“Reality Town offers kids a glimpse of their future. What kind of jobs are available, what they pay, and what’s out there,” said Wheatland High School Counselor, Stephanie Marker. “The community support is incredible. There is so much interest in helping
the kids.”

Some the businesses involved were Platte Valley Bank, Laramie Peak Motors, Rural Electric Association, and Simply Creative to name a few. University of Wyoming was represented as well as Eastern Wyoming College. Military options were present and offered some additional income in the simulation if they were running short on cash to cover their monthly expenses.

The Old Junior High was hopping with excitement and energy while the kids went from table to table marking expenditures in their Check Register. At one point the overhead lights went out and just emergency lights were left. Everyone stopped for just a moment, then brought out their cell phones for some extra light and kept on going with the program. (The lights going out was just a mix-up with a timer and it was remedied quickly. The school is not behind on their electricity bill.) Everyone was engaged, talking and communicating. It was a great moment of

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