Life after high school

Chugiak holds Financial Reality Fair


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Chugiak High senior Cindy Lee, right, talks with Sara Boyer of True North Federal Credit Union at the Financial Reality Fair on Thursday, Nov. 21.

MIKE NESPER

Cindy Lee learned a good lesson last week — life is expensive.

The Chugiak High senior was one of about 50 upperclassmen who participated in the school’s Financial Reality Fair on Thursday, Nov. 21.

As soon as students entered room 208, they turned 24-years-old. After they chose a profession, students were given a salary and some had spouses and/or children.

George Lochner likened the experience to playing the Milton Bradley game, Life.

“It’s kind of like a walking board game,” said Lochner, marketing manager for Matanuska Valley Financial Credit Union, who put on the event.

Multiple tables were spread out in two classrooms each offering various services. Students made their way from table to table, purchasing a home, a vehicle, insurance, etc.

Multiple financial advisers lined the back of the room to provide students with advice to help them stick to their budget.

Having one-on-one conversations with the roughly 25 volunteers from the business community was the biggest benefit to students, said career technology and business teacher Leha Uehling.

“These are people who have knowledge and experience,” she said.

And her students listened to every word.

“They’re totally engaged,” Uehling said.

Students also had to deal with unforeseen events. After spinning the “wheel of reality,” students’ budgets were impacted positively or negatively.

The goal is to simulate life, Lochner said.

“We make it as real as possible,” he said.

This was Matanuska Valley’s fourth Financial Reality Fair. Lochner said they borrowed the idea from a company in the Lower 48.

The fair shows students what’s waiting for them once they leave the comfort of their parents’ house, Lochner said.

“It’s getting a taste of reality in a fun, safe environment,” he said.

It also gives students an appreciation for what their moms and dads go through each month, Lochner said. During previous fairs, that knowledge was almost too much for some, he said.

“I had one or two almost brought to tears,” Lochner said.

The event was only open to juniors and seniors.

It’s more appropriate for upperclassmen, Lochner said, because life without mom and dad isn’t far off.

“They’re already thinking about it,” he said.

Lee certainly is.

During the fair, she said the thought of living without her parents became real.

“It’s scaring me,” Lee said. “I have to make the choices on my own.”

Lee said the fair forced her to think about her future and what will be most important.

“It teaches what my priorities are and what I need in life,” she said. “Things I don’t need now but I’ll need when I’m on my own.”

Lee said she was glad to participate in Chugiak’s first Financial Reality Fair before graduating.

“It’s a really good experience,” she said. “I like how it’s so real.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com.

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