After a pandemic generated break, Spoon River College will once again be hosting their annual 8th Grade Reality Store event at the Canton Campus on Friday, April 14. Approximately 600 8th graders from Astoria, Bushnell Prairie City, Canton Ingersoll, Cuba, Farmington, Havana, Lewistown, Spoon River Valley and Macomb will be attending.

This unique and popular event allows students to choose a career field they are interested in, and then attend a question and answer session with a professional from that field. Following the presentations, students receive a paycheck that reflects the monthly starting salary – minus taxes – for the particular occupation they chose. After that, the real learning begins.

“Once they get a paycheck, they must pay bills and live on what’s left for a month, just like in the real world,” said Brandi Ketcham, Spoon River College student advisor and coordinator for the event. “All of them must pay the basics – housing, transportation, insurance, and the like – but some students are randomly selected to also have families, which means extra costs, such as childcare.”

And just like real life, the unexpected pops up. In the case of the 8th Grade Reality Store, real life pops up via the Wheel of Chance, which can throw off even the most frugal budget with an expensive home repair or speeding ticket.

“Sometimes though, the Wheel of Chance can be a windfall, such as winning a radio contest or inheriting money,” said Ketcham. “That’s the thing about real life; you don’t know what might come up on any given day.”