Duneland School Corporation hosts annual Reality Check event to prepare eighth grade students

Duneland School Corporation hosts annual Reality Check event to prepare eighth grade students

Eighth grade students at Chesterton Middle School had their eyes opened to a glimpse of the world beyond school. Duneland School Corporation held its annual Reality Check event, sponsored by Comcast, inside the middle school gym on Friday, May 10.

Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024

Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024 51 Photos
Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024Comcast Sponsors Duneland Reality Check Event 2024

Maura Mundell, president of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, describes the purpose that Reality Check serves for the students.

“This event is a way for our eighth grade students to get an idea for making financial decisions,” Mundell said. “We want to give them an idea of what's to come in their young adult lives so they can be well prepared in understanding finances and how that correlates with their careers.”

Mundell appreciates that this event is a prime example of how the Duneland Chamber of Commerce guides students in the right direction. She also believes that it’s great for the students to have this preliminary experience now before they are put into these situations for themselves one day.

“Introducing them to this concept at this age is the perfect timing,” Mundell said. “These students are old enough to realize how some of this works.They're able to connect the dots a little bit more easily at this age without having to make any decisions just yet. We're focused on gearing them up to make the best decisions with their money in the future.”

The way it works is each student chooses a career based on their GPA before walking through various stations and paying monthly expenses. 

This includes payments such as taxes, child care, housing and insurance. The students who end up with leftover money can spend it on rewards, while those who enter bankruptcy have to rethink the way they spend their money.

“It’s neat because they get a taste of what their parents and guardians typically deal with on a daily basis,” Mundell said. “We give them different options in some of these stations. Some of them might end up with the best options while others could settle with something more economical for where they’re at right now.”

Laura Herrod, seventh and eighth grade counselor at the Duneland School Corporation, notes that this event has been going for nearly 30 years. 

“We’re changed locations for this event a few times over the years,” Herrod said. “When I first joined, we were out at the Porter County Expo Center. Then, we moved it closer to the high school. We decided to do it at the middle school recently since we have a beautiful gym facility and not have to worry about transportation.”

Every year, the event has continued to grow. Not only has there been more students actively participating, but the options presented at the event have expanded significantly since the first year.

“It’s great because I know, when I was their age, I did not understand what all went into daily living for my parents who were working and living independently,” Herrod said. “There is value to education, and we want the students to understand that we all need training and practice prior to starting our jobs.”

The part that Herrod enjoys the most is how the students are able to leave the event each time with a different perspective on the value of using their money accordingly and the little things behind major expenses than what they had walking in.

“We get a lot of reactions from the students learning something new at this event each year,” Herrod said. “Some students didn't realize that you need insurance to drive a vehicle because it's a non-tangible item. Other students were unaware of what it takes to run a household. These are hefty decisions that they have to make through a role-playing exercise today and will hopefully benefit them in the long run.”

Ultimately, this annual event has a special place in the heart of the Duneland community in educating future adults in Northwest Indiana.

“I want the students to be able to take something away from this,” Mundell said. “Whether that's having a better appreciation of how someone's taking care of themselves now or later, giving them a leg up in financial education is the best opportunity that we as a Duneland Chamber could give to these eighth graders.”

Mundell also shared her appreciation for the sponsors for playing a major role in the success of this year’s event. Comcast served as the premier sponsor for the second consecutive year. Family Express donated breakfast for everyone in attendance as well.

For more information on the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, you can visit their website.

For more information on Comcast, visit comcast.com.