Arcanum Reality Fair teaches students financial responsibility

All week was we taught them what they see in a paycheck is not what they get ... Colton Troutwine

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Mercedes McFarland, Darke County OSU Extension Office looks on as Arcanum Middle School Principal Jason Vince welcomes Arcanum-Bulter middle school students to the Eighth Grade Reality Fair. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

ARCANUM – Arcanum-Butler completed its second year of the Eighth Grade Reality Fair program, an idea that began with Erin Tegtmeyer, fifth and sixth-grade Intervention Specialist and Jaimee Garbig, JH/MS Intervention Specialist.

The first of two Arcanum-Butler eighth-grade classes get set for Reality Fair. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“I credit Jason Vince, our Middle School Principal, over the last four years, looking at ways at middle schools, especially our eighth graders transitioning to high school,” said Arcanum-Butler Superintendent John Stephens. “What are some real-life applications that our kids can start thinking about.”

“You hear more and more, what are schools doing? Why aren’t schools teaching daily life skills? We try to make that a priority,” Stephens added. “This is one of those things we do. It’s a special event.”

Greenville National Bank (GNB) participates in the Arcanum-Butler Eighth Grade Reality Fair. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Local community businesses participate in the day’s event, setting up stations around the high school gymnasium for students to learn about the financial aspects of life.

“We were thinking about ways our incoming freshmen could learn about real life and set them up for their four years of high school to help them make better decisions to navigate their plan outside of school when they graduate,” said Tegtmeyer. “There are four days of lessons before this, and this is where they apply it and learn about all the different expenses and incomes of reality. They have a budget sheet and all the information, so it has been four days of lessons. Now we’ll apply it.”

The new Arcanum-Butler eighth-grade program helps students choose a path that suits their interests and manage their daily income.

Arcanum-Butler eighth graders learn about Health and Wellness expenses. (Gaylen Blosserphoto)

“Students are going to experience all of these stations today whether that be buying a car renting a house or buying a house, making a decision about children, insurance, and all those adult things that they will have to go through,” said Vince. “We do a lot of econ work within Mr. Troutwine’s social studies class the week prior, so they’ve all obtained some jobs that they identified as interesting.”

“It’s not just a random degree they have or a profession they have,” Tegtmeyer explained. “There is a path that set them on this journey today… it is fun. Not everyone is going to pick a doctor. It’s based on their interest, making this event even better.”

Reality Fair teaches eighth graders to budget for clothing expenses. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

Four days of lessons precede each day’s activities, during which the students learn about different expenses and incomes in reality. The students use a budget sheet and information learned in the classroom.

“All week was we taught them what they see in a paycheck is not what they get,” said Colton Troutwine. “We learn where all their deductions go, where your taxes go, and then talked about putting money into savings, what percent you should put into a savings account.”

Reality Fair helps teach Arcanum eighth-grade students housing expenses. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“We accounted for them being married, but the situation they have is their spouse is a college student who has a part-time job, so they’re only contributing $400,” he added. “Whatever money they were left over is what they must spend today. We talked about making sure you go to the booth that covers your needs before you go to the entertainment and cover your wants.”

“We will come back Monday and reflect on whether they made or lost money,” said Tegtmeyer. “There are Smarties and Dumb Dumbs at the end – if they make money, they get SMARTIES. If they lose money, they get Dum-Dums.”

Mercedes McFarland, an Educator in 4-H Youth Development from the Darke County OSU Extension Office, spent the day helping with the eighth-grade Reality Fair.

Arcanum eighth-grade students learn about banking at Reality Fair. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“This is an extension program, so I am here to help them run and facilitate the program, although Arcanum is fantastic and did all the back work,” said McFarland. “This is my third school program with them, and their kids are always super respectful and excited about the program.”

“These are some of the best students I’ve seen in my career,” Mr. Vince concluded. “All kids are great but this class, in particular, is a close group. They like to participate, get involved with our school activities, and have been a real joy over the last four years.”

Mr. Stephens thanked the businesses that took part in the Arcanum-Butler eighth-grade event.