LAYTON -- When faced with the responsibilities of being an adult, some teenage students find they are a little overwhelmed.
About 300 eighth-grade students at North Layton Junior High School participated Tuesday morning in a Reality Town activity, in which each chose a career and were given imaginary family members to support.
The students were also given a corresponding salary and checkbook, with the assignment to visit 20 booths throughout the gymnasium to pay their family bills.
"It was really exhausting. Being an adult is really hard," said Ally Chambers, 13. "You have to make all these payments that you don't realize about as a kid."
Ally smiled, showing her braces, as she explained that she chose the career of an orthodontist for the activity.
However, she found that she also had to take on a part-time job as a bookkeeper to support her family.
"It's a lot of work," she said.
Students' education levels and resulting career choices were determined by their first-term grade point average.
"They could choose any job on the list if they had a high GPA. If they had a low GPA, they had a lower education," said Lynette Nielson, school counselor. "We hope they realize that more education means more opportunities."
Nielson said the school has conducted this activity for 10 years and has seen many positive results.
Selina Figueroa, 13, said she enjoyed learning how to write checks.
Sunset Martinez, 14, found childcare to be very expensive.
Sariah Hogan, 14, said she learned not to shop for expensive items, such as name-brand clothing and big houses.
"I want to start off good and make sure there is enough money for all my expenses," said Chandler Davis, 14. "I need to do good in school so I can get a good job."
Zach Astle, 13, said he earned a 4.0 GPA in the first term, and was therefore able to choose the career of a lawyer making $10,000 a month.
"I'm living relatively cheap, except for my Mustang," Zach said. "I have to be careful and have a good budget."
Jonathon Thomsen, 14, said he chose the career of a commercial pilot with his 3.8 GPA, but still decided to live frugally.
"I'm living a comfortable lifestyle, but the taxes used up all of my paycheck. That's the reason why I'm eating Ramen noodles and wearing Walmart clothes."
Several students were surprised at the cost of groceries, taxes and childcare.
Students were required to select housing, vehicles, transportation, insurance, childcare, clothing and groceries that fell within their salary. If they ran out of money before the bills were paid, they visited an S.O.S. booth, where an adult volunteer helped them determine if they could cut their expenses or if they needed a part-time job.
Cheri Holt, of Syracuse, volunteered at the activity and was assigned to help students find part-time work, if needed.
"They have to try to find a job that corresponds with their regular job's wages and hours," she said. "It's a good experience for them to see how much everything costs."
Nielson said: "Hopefully, the kids realize it's important to do well in school for more choices in life."