TOP PHOTO: Campbell County High School’s CTE Coach Josh Parker operated the utility department of “Plugged In Energy Inc.” teaching students about the need to budget not only for electric, but for water, sewer, gas, cable, cell phones and more.

By Charlotte Underwood

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – For the sixth consecutive year, eighth grade students at La Follette Middle School got a brief taste of life by playing Adulting 101 on Friday morning. Two groups of 50+ students went through the activity and learned real life lessons that they will hopefully carry with them into adulthood.

This year is special in that all eighth-grade students in the whole county will get to participate in this valuable “financial literacy” workshop. Students in Jellico, White Oak, Elk Valley, and Wynn participated in it last week when it was held at Jellico High School and Jacksboro Middle School students will get to learn all about “adulting” later this week!

Adulting 101 is a game designed to simulate real world budgeting and provide students with an interactive experience to develop financial literacy skills.

There were more than 25 community volunteers who stepped up to help make the “Adulting 101” game a reality for LMS eighth graders on Friday. Pictured left to right is MJ Meredith, Martha Wells as “the Green Reaper” and Linda Heatherly operating the “Get Goin’ Gas Services.” 

“It all began six years ago through our local GEAR UP program with Monica Bane. Mrs. Bane has loaned the material to make it happen again this year,” said Linda Prim, School Counselor for La Follette Middle School. Prim said this is the first year since its inception that all eighth-grade students in the county will once again get to participate in the course.

“Lisa Bolton, the Career Coach at Jellico High School, brought in all the eighth graders from the smaller mountain schools so they could participate this year,” Prim said.

The objective of the 90-minute game is to simulate real world budgeting and provide students with an interactive experience to develop financial literacy skills. The game is based in a fictional city, but the salaries and prices in the game are based entirely on real life estimates from a mid-sized, growing city here in Tennessee, according to Prim.

More than 100 eighth graders at LMS learned that adulting involves a lot of math while participating in the “Adulting 101” game. Students were issued a calculator and a pencil to help keep track of their budget.

Students receive a blank expense ledger with a check list on the back, a pencil, and a calculator to start the game. They then draw a “Who Am I?” card with no trades allowed.

The game takes place over the course of one fictional month in the players’ lives after graduating from high school. Each student is randomly assigned a career, salary, and life scenario. The careers in the game vary widely and represent a range of salaries and post-secondary educational requirements.

“This shows students that the education decisions they will make such as secondary education, will have a direct impact on their life and budget,” Prim said.

 As students move through the game, they will make “life” purchases like housing, transportation, food and more from the different stations around the room while managing their budget to make sure they don’t run out of money.

The eight different stations students will visit throughout the game are:
• New Wheels Dealership – Price list of cars for sale
• TN Treasures Real Estate – Listing of homes for sale and apartments for rent.
• Plugged In Energy – Price list for essential (gas, water, sewer, trash, etc.) and non-essential (cable, internet, etc.)
• Just in Case Insurance – List of insurance prices, student insurance cards, stickers to indicate insurance purchases
on student insurance cards
• Get Goin’ Gas Station – Monthly price list of gas based on home location
• Super Foods Market – List of monthly grocery expenses based on family size
• Smoky Mountain One Stop shop – Price list for appliances, furniture, and electronics
• Dogwood Medical Center – Diagnosis cards

School board member Sharon Ridenour and CCHS CTE Director Traci Chambers were among the 25 community volunteers coming together on Friday to make LaFollette Middle School’s Adulting 101 event a success!

Each of these stations is manned by community volunteers who help students figure out these important life choices. Students had to maintain a budget and live within their means as assigned by their “career cards.” If they exceeded their income, financial coaching was available. More than one student came up to Mrs. Prim and announced they had gone “bankrupt” and off they were sent to receive some financial advice.

“In real life, however, things do not always go according to plan or budget and that’s where “The Green Reaper” comes in,” Prim said.

Long-time former Campbell County school teacher Martha Wells took on the role of the Green Reaper this year, making her way around the stations throwing unexpected expenses at students. The Green Reaper doles out life’s unforeseen events like a flat tire, home repairs and a higher than usual utility bill or a flooded basement.

“It’s a great way to teach the kids that you can’t plan for everything, and life is full of unexpected costs,” Wells said.

Eighth-grade Students at LaFollette Middle School learned financial literacy skills on Friday by playing the “Adulting 101” game. Pictured left to right is Giovanni Garcia, Jaron Wilson and LMS counselor Linda Prim. 

The whole activity is designed to better prepare students for real world choices and to have “financial literacy.”

“We are thrilled to have this valuable financial literacy experience once again for our students with more than 25 community volunteers coming in to run the stations. Without them, Adulting 101 would not happen,” Prim said. According to Prim, many of the community volunteers are the same ones who help year after year.

“These are our community leaders and our business professionals who invest in our students each year. I cannot thank them enough for coming in and doing this. It could not be done without the support of our community volunteers,” Prim said.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/18/2024-6AM)