‘Reality Town’ gives students in Layton a preview of struggles of adult life

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LAYTON, Utah – Some junior high school students in Utah grew up fast this week, as “Reality Town” came to North Layton Junior High School.

Reality Town is an event where students are assigned an occupation and salary based on their current GPA, and they then go from booth to booth and pay for things like their housing, insurance and child care. The process of juggling work with paying bills and providing for a family was a wake-up call for some.

"We learn that life isn't as easy as it is,” eighth grade student Britton Morrell said. “And it lets you go through the struggles that regular adults have to go through."

The event is put on every year by faculty and dozens of volunteers to give students a better idea of what life in the real world is like and to help them understand what their parents do for them. They also hope to help kids realize the importance of continued education.

"A big thing we love is when students say things like, ‘I'm definitely going to go to college.’ Or, ‘I have decided that I need to do the next step, I'm going to be a dental hygienist instead of just, you know, a manager somewhere,'” said Lynette Nielson, a student counselor who helped with Reality Town.

Reality Town is held at several Utah junior high schools. One teacher said she thought the personalized pay stubs students received really made the experience ring true for them. The stubs had the student's name, career, tax information, student and business loan information, spouse and number and ages of children.