New event to resemble a game of life

By Tucker Henderson


A new opportunity for New York Mills students will have its maiden event on Tuesday, March 28 at the NY Mills School during the first half of the day.

Farmers and Merchants State Bank will be hosting a Reality Fair for students in grades 9-12. The fair is essentially a game of life, where students are assigned a career, initial debts and a family ranging in size from small to large.

“There’s different booths that the kids will get to go through,” said Stephanie Von Ruden of Farmers and Merchants State Bank. “I sent out a survey and all the kids were able to choose a career that they were interested in and with the career, it says whether they have student loan debt or anything like that, what their household size is, what they are starting with.”

Grade levels will take turns making their way through their simulated lives and will learn about aspects of finance, housing and a number of other important topics in everyday life.

“They’ll go through the tables and figure out their checkbook, see where they’re sitting,” said Von Ruden. “If they pick too fancy of a car, if they pay too high of a cellphone plan, see how that affects them.”

The event will also host other local businesses such as Centennial Realty, the Cultural Center, Mills Market and others. These business owners and community members will be educating students about their own respective fields, whether it’s healthcare, volunteering, grocery budgets, housing, etc. The Cultural Center will also be working a booth to talk to students about the importance of volunteering and giving back to their community and incorporating that into a budget.

“The bank is going to be there talking about loans and credit cards and those type of things,” said Von Ruden. “We have Arvig coming for the phone plans and then we had Mid-State coming for the transportation part, looking at vehicles. So just trying to incorporate some of the different businesses. We have a couple lawyers coming out, stay-at-home moms coming to work the kid’s booth and talk a little bit about that.”

The bank has been planning to sponsor an event like this in the past few years, but had not finalized a curriculum for the interactive course. Fortuitously, in the past year the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) came out with a program along the same lines.

“This is actually a program that the FDIC created and that we’re able to utilize, so it’s kind of a cool little connection,” said Von Ruden. “We’re excited to get it going and we think it will be an asset. Help them learn how to balance check books. We’re going to have a post-event meeting with the school, we’re working with some of the counselors and some of the upper-classmen teachers who teach career classes and see whether it makes sense  to do it annually of biannually since we’re incorporating such a large group of students. So we’ll analyze that after the event is done to see how often it’s helpful.”