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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Reality Fair Provides Students with Real-Life Financial Decision-Making

Andrew Toorock helps Jacob Klay make a decision regarding transportation. Photos/Josh Wiczer

By Cynthia Whitty

Ashland High School seniors participated in the second annual Reality Fair on May 28. The event was organized by the Student Council and Council President Kaitlin Merson and overseen by Josh Wiczer, Student Council Advisor. The fair is designed to give students a glimpse into their future personal finances and just how far they might be able to stretch their paycheck.

 Lynn Zayac discusses health insurance with Ellie Stevens and Trisha Yadav.

Prior to the event, students select a career. When they come to the fair they are handed a monthly paycheck along with a credit score and career profile. They navigate over booths staffed by over 60 local professionals and community volunteers, including from the Framingham Rotary Club and Ashland Business Association. The students then make financial decisions, such as deciding where they will live (at home or rent), whether they will buy a car, purchase health insurance, put some money away for retirement and add to their personal savings. All students are required stop by the “Reality Check” booth where they spun the “Reality Check Wheel” to see what surprise they would have to account for in their budget. (Win bingo? Get $100! Emergency dental work? Pay $300!) Students then sit down with a “budget counselor” who reviews their monthly budget to make sure it balances, and if it doesn’t, they are sent back to the booths to adjust some of their financial decisions.

“Students found the experience to be eye-opening in terms of what it would cost to live the life they envisioned and it forced them to make difficult decisions, at times, to ensure their finances would balance,” Wiczer said. “The volunteers were impressed by the mature and fiscally responsible questions the students were asking as they attempt to make the best decisions possible.”

Nutrition Services Director Lisa Beaudin works with Taryn Cavallo to figure out her monthly food budget.

The Reality Fair was funded by a grant from the state’s Office of Economic Development and donations from Umholtz Plumbing and Heating, Denise Montoya Pottery, and WAITT (“We’re All In This Together”).

 Assistant Superintendent Mike Caira spins the “Reality Check Wheel” for Ryan Boyles.

The Ashland High School Student Council would like to thank all of the volunteers who helped make this event a success and is looking forward to the 2022 Reality Fair!