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Local Eighth Graders Get a ‘Reality Check’ at Kiamichi Tech

Posted Date: 11/10/2023

Local Eighth Graders Get a ‘Reality Check’ at Kiamichi Tech

McALESTER, Okla. – Eighth grade students from 21 area school districts recently visited Kiamichi Tech - McAlester to participate in an annual budgeting event called “Reality Check.” Four sessions were held over two days at Kiamichi Tech with a total of 651 students participating. 

“Students pre-registered for Reality Check online and selected what they want to be when they grow up,” said Rachael Ranallo, Career Specialist at Kiamichi Tech. “Based on that information an individual budget sheet was created for each student with income data related to the occupation they chose, including annual salary, entry-level education requirements, monthly gross pay, mandatory deductions and final net pay for the month. Students were also randomly assigned a family situation, being married or single and some having children.”  

As schools arrived, current Kiamichi Tech Criminal Justice students met the buses, accounted for all students and led them into the Prichard Family Seminar Center where many community volunteers were set up with 18 booths that represented the expenses that would have to be paid in the budgeting simulation.  

“Kiamichi Tech is your tech center,” Ranallo emphasized as she welcomed students and introduced the program and activities for the day. “Think of today like playing ‘The Game of Life.’ You will use your budget sheet to pay real expenses that you will have in real life, like rent, your car payment, phone plan, medical insurance, food and more.”  

Students visited the various booths and had to keep track of how much money they had left, with some seeing how quickly their expenses can add up to be more than their monthly income.   

“One of the students’ favorite booths was the ‘Wheel of Adulting,’ where students spun a wheel and would either land on a debit or credit scenario, like needing to replace a tire or selling something online, and they would have to account for that in their budget,” said Ranallo.   

The session concluded with a reflection discussion and students were given ideas on how to adjust their spending to match their income and how to plan to live below their means. Schools were sent post-lesson resources meant to continue the conversation with their students.   

“This activity is an excellent way to get students to consider how the educational plans they make now can impact their future options for work and income,” said Raymond Wilson, Campus Director at Kiamichi Tech. “We appreciate all of our partner schools for giving their students the opportunity to participate in Reality Check.”  

To learn more about career exploration for middle school students at Kiamichi Tech, contact Rachael Ranallo, Career Specialist, at