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The City Journals

Students fast forward 15 years during career day

Dec 06, 2016 02:41PM ● By Tori LaRue

Students pretend to sign up for the military during Copper Mountain Middle School’s Reality Town mock-life activity. The purpose of the event was to get ninth-graders to begin seeing options for their future. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Fast forward 15 years and Kyler Evans may be a computer software engineer who’s married with three kids. Kyler, a freshman at Copper Mountain Middle School, had the opportunity to see where his future may take him during the school’s Reality Town activity on Oct. 27. 

“Really, I just started to learn about how expensive everything is,” Kyler said. 

Kyler and the rest of the freshman CHMS class selected a future job based on their individual GPAs (higher GPAs provided higher paying jobs in the activity.), and Reality Town staff assigned them a salary and family situation. From there, the school and local community created a mock-life fair in the gym where students visited booths to do adult tasks such as buying a house, getting a car fixed, purchasing groceries and enrolling children in extracurricular activities. 

Most booths gave students high-, medium- and low-priced options, so the students could see the approximate cost of the lifestyle they desire. A few booths were based on luck, and students were required to pay for mishaps that occur in family day to day living. If students ran out of money, they’d have to get a second job, sell their possessions or find another way to make money in the game.

“I was just trying to save money and buy cheap stuff, but I still ran out of money, so I had to join the military,” Kyler said. “I have three kids in Reality Town, and they are the reason why everything is so expensive.” 

Kyler said he learned to be grateful for what he has and to plan finances wisely. He said he’d like to pursue a career in computer software engineering and plans to study in school to be ready for the industry. 

Kristi Kemp, work-based learning coordinator for Jordan School District, said the district brings reality town to its schools because it gives students motivation to do well in school. 

“We implement this in ninth grade during first quarter because it’s a time for these students to realize that their high school grades will contribute to their success,” she said. “If they aren’t doing well in school, they may be closing doors later in life when they are 30. Likewise, if they are doing well, they realize they are opening doors for their future.” 

More than 90 community volunteers helped run the event. Shannon Youngblood said she volunteered because she realized the program would help students learn what it is like to be an adult. 

“It gives them perspective, so when they are asking for money, they know what goes into that,” she said. “They learn how to budget, and they know better what to expect from parents and adults.” 

Youngblood helped run the personal care booth where participants chose the kind of deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothpaste and other products they wanted to provide themselves and their family. She said it was interesting to watch students deliberate on whether to purchase the designer, regular or knock-off brand products. 

Youngblood has two children who attend CMMS, and said she hopes they learn self-mastery and budgeting skills from activities at school, such as Reality Town. 

Ninth-grader Romone Vaughn’s pretend occupation was chef, and he dressed the part for the activity, complete with a white apron, red necktie and chef hat that he made out of lined paper. He said he’s learned that preparation is the key to living a successful life. 

“I guess I decided today that I want to get a college degree,” said Romone. “I’ll be much better off that way and have more to spend” 

While the gym was bustling with ninth graders impersonating 30-year-olds, the auditorium was full of seventh-graders who were also learning about their potential in the future workforce. Employees from the KSL Morning Show taught the 12- and 13-year-olds about jobs available in the broadcasting industry. 

The school follows state mandate to introduce seventh-grade students to six different career industries by incorporating presentations from professionals in the field. The KSL presentation was the first one of the year, and counselors determined to offer the assembly on the same day as reality town.

Eighth-graders weren’t at school to experience the KSL presentation or Reality Town activity because each student in their grade was required to complete a job shadow on Oct. 27. 

With each grade concurrently participating in work-based learning, Copper Mountain Middle created its first Career Day. 

“When you ask a middle school student what they want to be when they grow up, some have an answer right away, but others have no idea,” said Teresa Bills, a school counselor. “Career Day is just one of the ways we help middle school students start looking ahead to what their future career might be.”