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    Reality U

    School of hard knocks becomes learning experience

    Students often hear their lives will be different once they enter “the real world,” so on Thursday Great Bend Middle School eighth graders got a preview of their future selves.
    United Way of Central Kansas and more than 50 community volunteers helped bring the Pando Initiative’s Reality U program to the school.
    The lesson was presented in a format similar to a giant board game, where the students were the game pieces that had to move around the room and follow instructions as they stopped at each location. Sometimes what followed was random – decided by the roll of the dice. But more often than not, the outcomes of the Reality U program were determined by the students’ own choices.
    To prepare for Reality U, students were asked to imagine their lives as 26-year-olds and complete a survey. School Counselor Sheryl Neeland said there were questions about their occupations, marital status and how they would use credit cards. Their grade-point averages from last year were also figured in.
    On Thursday, students were given a workbook, called a passport, and told their survey results. That’s where the Reality of Reality U started to sink in. They started with a month’s income, but at each stop had to add or subtract income or expenses.
    Some had low credit scores or child care expenses, all things that a 26-year-old might encounter, said Daytha Rueger with the Pando Initiative.
    One student who said she wanted to be a doctor was assigned a job as a nurse instead, because her grade point average was too low for medical school. If that student hopes to become a doctor in the future, she will need better grades, Neeland said.
    Each passport showed the student’s career field and job, marital status, what the student receives or pays for child care, monthly income, student loan debt and credit score. Some students played the game as couples and had to make their spending choices together.
    Rueger told the students they could shop for any home and car they wanted, but they had to make ends meet.
    “You may have to find a roommate, or return your entertainment or cell phone,” she said.
    There were a dozen places for each student to visit, but local volunteer Linda Marmie said many came to her table, Transportation, first.
    Student Tristan Higgins, who had a Reality U job as a construction worker, wanted to drive a nice pickup. But after Marmie showed him the choices and what he could afford, Higgins he had to settle for a Honda Civic with 120,000 miles on it.
    Housing, utilities, the supermarket and entertainment were all stops. Sometimes, the students had to visit a site more than once.
    Gefferey Palacio stopped at the Medical Center where volunteer Lindsey Bogner from Ellinwood Hospital and Clinic asked if he wanted to purchase health insurance. The cost and the benefits were explained, and he bought the insurance.
    A few minutes later, Palacio visited Chance and rolled the dice to determine a random event in his life. The result was a broken arm, so he returned to the Medical Center. Seeing a doctor and getting a prescription filled cost him $35, but it would have cost $150 more if he didn’t have insurance, Bogner said.
    Meanwhile Higgins found his bills were piling up, even with the less expensive car. He visited the Q&A table for advice.
    “I’m going to be hunting my own food,” he joked.
    “I need to get a second job,” said student Ivan Gutierrez. It was either that or work an extra shift once a week.
    Kaylee Bryant made an early stop at Child Care and was handed a doll to carry for the rest of the lesson. When she stopped at Chance she had to pay $50 for higher utilities.

    Have fun
    It wasn’t all bad. Rueger’s last bit of advice before they started the game/program was, “Have fun.” 
    Adults were sometimes amused by the students’ comments and reactions.
    Volunteer Shellie Thill said one “married couple” with children in the game found their expenses higher than expected and asked, “What do we do if we don’t want kids?”
    One student was thrilled to know she could have a pet; in fact, she thought she’s have 10. She changed her mind after learning the monthly cost was $50 per pet.
    “It’s really opened their eyes,” volunteer Steve Wittig from Marmie Motors said after a day of advising students.
    “It’s been a learning experience both ways,” Linda Marmie said.
    At the end of the exercise, students were asked what they learned and their impressions of the exercise. 
    Their initial answers included “Life is hard.” and “Wives (spouses) are expensive.”
    Things they plan to change now include keeping their grades up and waiting until they are older to get married.
    The students learned that turning in assignments on time is one way to improve their GPA, and perhaps help their future selves earn more money, Neeland said.
    Sponsors hope the student may also think more about the choices they make.
    Volunteer Bill Johnson thought the program provided “a good dose of reality. I’m glad to see them do it in the eighth grade,” he said.
    Julie Bugner-Smith from United Way said she and Neeland visited Andover to view a Reality U program in action before deciding it would be good for Great Bend students.
    “I hope the kids will go home and talk to their parents about it,” she said.

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    Rhorea staff lives big dream

    The Great Bend High School 2016 Rhorea Yearbook, along with the 2015-2016 yearbook staff, have been named a 2016 Jostens National Yearbook Program of Excellence.

    Awards are given for schools that have achieved criteria in the following categories: Creating an inclusive yearbook, generating school engagement and successfully managing the yearbook creation process.

     “We did it!,” said an excited Andy Negaard, yearbook adviser. Last year was the first year under his leadership.

    “Without any returning staff members from previous years and me having no experience advising the program, we learned as we went along and we figured out how to make a yearbook,” Negaard said.

    He explained that the staff started last year with the quote, “Think big, dream big, believe big and the results will be big!”

    The quote paid off in a big way, he said.

    “I am so proud of what they were able to accomplish,” he said. “When you see the students, please congratulate them on their efforts.

    “The students have set a new bar of excellence by which all future yearbook staff members should strive,” Negaard said. “We have set an outrageously high bar for ourselves for this year and years to come.”

    Staff members for the 2015-16 book included Emily Beck, Brittney Birzer, Allison Brodrick, Shaylynn Brown,

    Valeria Castillo, Baleigh Fry, Ayleen Hernandez, Sidney Meitner, Kaitlyn Moos, Berenice Ochoa, Alondra Olivas, Andrew Rincon, Hunter Ruppe, Edith Solorzano, Kaylee Spragis, Victor Stoulil and Elena Taboada.

    “Two other people who need to be mentioned are Travis Feil, our Jostens sales representative, and Brandy Wathke, our publications consultant,” Negaard said. “Without their guidance, patience and understanding, we would’ve never been able to see this through.

    “Thank you to our administrators, both here at the high school and at the District Education Center, our secretarial staff, our local businesses and lastly, the entire faculty, staff and student body of Great Bend High School,” he said. “This book is for all of you.”

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    Riley School celebrates 100 years

    Riley School celebrated its centennial on Sept. 11 with a come-and-go community event.

    Upward of 400 Riley alums, community members, past staff members, current students and families came and went, according to JoAnn Blevins, principal.

    “We put the word out for Riley memorabilia to the public and were able to get report cards from the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s,” Blevins said. “The Barton County Historical Society helped us find old newspaper clippings and photos of staff members and students.

    “All of the items that we collected were displayed in the library during the celebration and turned out to be a real conversation starter,” she said.

    “We received letters from across the country from former students who shared their Riley memories with us,” Blevins said. “One included a student who lived south of town who rode her horse to school and when she got here, she would send the horse home.

    “Another former student who became a Riley teacher, Larry Becker, shared that he and another student jumped out of the second story window of the principal’s office to avoid a spanking,” she said. “Unfortunately for the boys, not only did they receive their spanking from Mrs. Scott, the principal, but they received one from his mother as well.”

    Current sixth graders provided building tours to guests. They worked in their classrooms on preparing to give tours and learning about their school.

    Rachel McCaulley, music teacher, worked with Identifications to design T-shirts that were given to each child and staff member. They were worn during the celebration.

    The planning team included Becky Hill, Rachel McCaulley, Casey Hatzenbuehler and Blevins.

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  • Career and college planning services

    Great Bend High School will begin to offer career and college planning services to all GBHS students and their parents Tuesday evenings from 6:00-8:00 pm. Lacy Wolters, ACT/Career Coordinator, will host the sessions. Ms. Wolters is a Certified Financial Planner who has past experience counseling clients on student loans, college planning, and 529 education accounts. In addition to discussing career and college planning, Ms. Wolters can provide guidance on completing the FAFSA, scholarships, and college applications. It is encouraged that students attend the session with their parents. 

    Call or email Ms. Wolters directly to schedule your appointment at 620-793-1521 or lacy.wolters@usd428.net

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