Volunteers needed to give Masuk’s personal finance students a Reality Check

Ronald Bellenot Sr., left, an attorney and a rotarian, helps Masuk student Aidan Haughney find a good deal on a phone, TV, internet and wifi for his home during the Reality Check financial simulation two years ago.

MONROE, CT — Reality Check, a popular financial simulation, will put Masuk High School’s personal finance students to the test on May 21. The Monroe Rotary Club sponsored program is now in its third year.

“The goal of the Reality Check program is to provide our students with a real life financial simulation that will help prepare them to make educated decisions about their future finances,” said Superintendent Joseph Kobza, who’s leading this year’s program.

“Students will go through the monthly income and expenses they can expect in their early twenties,” he explained. “We would like to give kids opportunities to make mistakes now with no/low stakes, rather than when they are starting to build up their credit scores in early adulthood.”

Now volunteers are needed from the community to staff booths inside the Masuk gym.

“In order to successfully pull off Reality Check, we rely on the help and support of volunteers to walk students through the expenses they will face in the very near future – auto, housing, food, credit card, etc … ,” Kobza said. “I volunteered at the Trumbull Rotary’s Reality Check and it was a great opportunity to work with the kids and help them analyze the options they have in all of these categories.  It is a very rewarding opportunity.”

Dave Wolfe, a Rotary Club member, first proposed offering the program at Masuk. Reality Check is patterned after a program at the Yukon Public Schools in Oklahoma. Wolfe said he learned about it from a Facebook post. The objective of the simulation is to balance everything at the end of the month — with money left over.

“Volunteers are really important, because they have information and can share their experiences to help guide the kids,” Wolfe said, adding more students will participate in this year’s program. “We need more people for the flow to keep things going.”

“We are fortunate to have two outstanding Personal Finance teachers, Jonelle DiSette and Allyson Danso, who help coordinate the Reality check program,” Kobza said. “Personal Finance is one of the most popular electives at Masuk and this year we expect almost 200 students from nine sections of Personal Finance to get the Reality Check experience.”

Last year, Reality Check had about 50 volunteers and Wolfe said the program can use up to 60.

On May 21, the program will be held in two sessions, so less students participate at a time. The event will be from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., starting with a training session for the volunteers.

Those interested in volunteering should email the Monroe Rotary Club at [email protected].

Inspiring Trumbull

Wolfe said Trumbull High School was inspired by Monroe’s Reality Check program, before starting its own.

“I’m lucky to work with committed Rotarians like Dave Wolfe who brought the Reality Check program to our club and, ultimately, to Masuk,” said Kobza, who is also a Rotarian.

“We have since partnered with Trumbull, who has offered it to their students now as well,” Kobza said. “It is a great relationship between the Monroe and Trumbull clubs as we are able to take the best practices from both programs to enhance the experience for our students.”

Every year, the Monroe Rotary Club gives students surveys, asking how organizers can make Reality Check better.

“This is one of the best programs we run,” Wolfe said. “It’s a great learning opportunity. The school really likes it. We’re hoping to do it for years to come.”

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