Tri-County Electric in cooperation with the Macon County High School and Red Boiling Springs High School hosted Survivor 2004-The Real World Experience in April.
Over 265 freshman from both schools participated in the survivor version of the reality based stores.
The Reality Experience was an active, hands on, real life simulation that gave the students the opportunity to explore career choices and make lifestyle and budget decisions similar to those adults face on a daily basis.
At the beginning of the challenge each student receives a program with an occupation and salary based on the grade point average the student has now.
This is designed to show the student that the grades they make in high school will influence the career choice they make in the future.
Another pre-determined factor is whether you are married and the number of children you have. If you are married your spouse's salary is a approximately $1000 per month.
Examples of careers were bakers, doctors, nurses, fruit processors and teachers.
When students received the program they are then required to travel to each booth. The booths are sponsored by several businesses in the area.
Local businesses donated their time to participate in the event. Tri-County would like to thank Anna Dean Carter, Carter Homes; Citizens Bank; Cumberland Bank; Four County Wellness Center; Jennifer Hudson, Circuit Court Clerk; Macon Bank and Trust Company; Macon County Department of Human Services; Macon County Farm Bureau; Macon County General Hospital; Macon County Sheriff's Department; Macon County Department Store; North Central Security Services, Inc.; North Central Telephone; Real Deal Auto Sales; Save-A-Lot Foods and C. Sue VanBlaricum, DDS. A special thanks also is extended to Diane Jones, MCHS Guidance Counselor and Kathy Cothron and Macon County High School Hospitality Committee.
Each student was required to purchase purchase clothing, food, health insurance, entertainment, and other monthly expenses.
Students started out with one months salary, spouse's salary, and taxes withheld. If a student is unable to pay the bills the student must visit financial counseling. This booth first became available in 2002. They are counseled and told to get a second job.
Once the student had a second job and more income they could revisit certain booths to purchase additional items including cell phones or cable television.
The goal of the Reality Store was simple, to help the students envision their future, help them learn basic skills in financial planning, and goal setting. The sponsors hoped to motivate students to stay in school and pursue a higher education.
A Crystal Ball was used to show how something unexpected can happen. These were ideas such as: ER visit for a child, animal expense, car repair, or home repair. The ball only held one "lucky" item.
Each year the store adds a new life problem. This year, School Resource Officer Brian Carter and Terry Atkins, issued speeding tickets to certain students who were "speeding" through the store. The students were issued tickets and had to then attend court with Circuit Court Clerk, Jennifer Hudson. They must pay the ticket fine and deduct it from their monthly income.
When each student completed the event they had to evaluate the challenge. Several questions were:
Do you see a relationship between your education now and your future salary? A total of 194 students said yes and 25 said no.
After experiencing the real world, will you plan for unexpected costs? A total of 207 said yes and a total of 12 said no.
Were you able to save as much as you wanted? A total of 85 said yes and a total of 134 said no.
A comment section was also required.
Several comments from students from both schools stated that their favorite part of Survivor was buying a truck or car, insurance, knowing what it would be like to be married with a wife and two kids, the challenge, the pressure of getting all the bills paid on time, realizing what they really want to do in life.
When asked what they would change about the program 117 students said nothing. One student even comment that they were "innocent" about the real world.
Tri-County Electric hopes that through this Real World Experience the students will learn to stay in school, budget their money, and make wise decisions in their adult life.