Approximately 575 students from Ingersoll, Havana, Farmington, Lewistown, Spoon River Valley and Macomb school districts had the chance to “adult” during the annual 8th Grade Reality Store held at Spoon River College in Canton on April 26.

The unique career awareness event, organized by SRC advisor Brandi Ketcham, allows students to choose a career, attend an informational session with a professional from that field, receive a paycheck that reflects the starting salary in their chosen career—minus taxes—and then pay their monthly living expenses. Some were also designated as married with children, or single with children, while others were single without children.

“The event does two things; it allows them to hear real inside information about various careers from people actually working in those areas, plus shows them how little money is often left from a paycheck after paying for the necessities of eating and housing, and other bills,” said Ketcham. “They also have to spin the dreaded Wheel of Chance, which might be a windfall such as winning money in a contest, or an unexpected expense like a car repair.”

Students’ comments following the event included that they were surprised at how much their parents have to spend each month on bills, that having children meant they couldn’t afford a cool car, that it was good to get a glimpse into their future life as an adult, and that they liked learning about a career from someone who was actually in that profession. Students especially liked learning how to weld using graham crackers and frosting, spinning the Wheel of Chance when it was a good outcome, and getting a chance to do the Cash Cube.

“It’s definitely a glimpse into being an adult,” said Ketcham.

Assisting with the event were students from Canton High School, as well as Spoon River College students, athletes and employees.

Presenters who shared information about their professions were Dr. Jacob Standard, Animal Science/Veterinary Medicine; Jamie Kotewa, Art Careers; Madi Link, Beauty Services; Jace Chamberlin, Business Owner; Dean Clary, Computer Careers; Aaron Mayall, Diesel Repair Technician; Keith Plavec, Engineering; Allyson Smith, Farming/Forestry/Ag; Dr. Jason Chamberlin, Health Care Professionals; Nate Adkins, Law Enforcement; Whitney Parrish, Lawyer/Paralegal; Cpt. Joel Natalie, Military Careers; Sarah Turner and Cassidy Miller, Nursing; Jason Palmer, Athletic Training; Julie Toney, Psychologist/Counselor; Evyn Way, Welding; and John Kurtz and Holly Norton, Coach/Teacher.