Shrewsbury High students get lessons in ‘reality’ at fair

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Senior Tucker with Kathleen Keohane at the Reality Check wheel

Shrewsbury – The Commons at Shrewsbury High School (SHS) was abuzz with activity April 2 when about 500 juniors and seniors took part in the school’s third annual Reality Fair.

After having learned about basic budgeting in a classroom setting, students were able to interact with professionals from the “real world” with expertise in a variety of industries to help the students navigate the challenges of “adulting.”

“I think the simulation gives students an eye opener in terms of how to create a budget, how to work with a budget and the simulation with salaries and expenses really gives them a good idea of what they will need to do when they leave Shrewsbury High School,” said Principal Todd Bazydlo.

Students were given a profession and a salary and they tracked their progress on a tablet as they made their way through stations ranging from Housing, Health/Nutrition, Transportation, Savings & Retirement, Credit & Lending, Charitable Giving, Technology and Budget Counseling.

Tucker (last name withheld), a senior, was thrilled to have won a gift card at the Reality Wheel that threw out curve balls – good and bad.

“Well, to start off today I got a DUI over at the Public Safety wheel so it’s not a good start for me, but I’m definitely learning more on how much I’ll have to budget in adult life. It’s a lot more than I thought,” noted 11th-grader Cole Ackerman.

Matt Armenti, relationship branch manager at UniBank in Shrewsbury, said that there were about 15 budget counselors on hand to help counsel students with regard to their choices.

SHS junior Natalie Siwek had just reviewed her budget with Armenti and was pleased to report that she was on track.

“It’s really interesting to figure out how everything fits together in real life. I’m an entertainment engineer making $52,000….I can get a single-bedroom apartment and a couple of luxuries and donate to charity. I’m still trying to figure out how to factor in insurance and stuff, but things look good so far,” remarked 11th-grader Meaghan Stearns.

“It’s pretty helpful…it’s like a balancing game,” noted her friend Joshua Hollyer, who was assigned the occupation of entrepreneur/computer engineer.

“It’s a great experience for our kids and hopefully they can take something out of this and apply it when they move on from SHS,” Bazydlo said.

The event was coordinated by SHS faculty members Jean Marie Johnson and Becky Moisan. Sponsors were Avidia Bank, Central One Federal Credit Union, Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union, Spectrum Enterprises and UniBank.

Photos/Melanie Petrucci

(l to r) Matt Armenti of UniBank, students Natalie Siwek and Vivian Weng, and Stephanie Luz of Avidia Bank