We have to pay bills?

YHS freshmen get ‘Reality Check’ with living expenses, income

Yukon Progress, Yukon Review, YHS
YHS freshmen experience some eye-opening, “a-hah” moments as they realize just how much things really cost – and that money doesn’t grow on trees. Reality Check helped many students appreciate their parents more. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

About 650 Yukon students experienced some eye-opening, “a-hah” moments this week when they learned to live on a budget.

Yukon High School freshmen got a true dose of reality on Tuesday during the 17th Annual “Reality Check” inside the YHS auxiliary gym, 1777 S Yukon Parkway. Students visited Reality Check booths in three separate sessions, two in the morning and one in the afternoon.

YHS frosh learned about securing housing, paying for auto and renters insurance and utilities, buying a car, groceries and furniture; and, if needed, getting a second job to cover all their living expenses.

Reality Check is presented by YPS Community Engagement with help from community and business volunteers who represent industries from banking, real estate and insurance to healthcare, transportation and communications.

“We have about 150 volunteers,” said D’Lynne McDaniel, director of YPS Community Engagement. “We rely on them year after year, all day long. … We could not do this without them.”

Tuesday was a “great day” at Reality Check ’19, she opined.

“It’s been amazing,” McDaniel said. “There’s been a lot of ‘a-hah’ moments for some of these students.”

She noticed the expenses of childcare and groceries especially caused frequent “a-hah” moments for wide-eyed YHS freshmen.

“They don’t realize what their parents pay for things until they have to do it themselves,” McDaniel said.

Few schools have such an event for students.

“Redlands Community College does an adaption of this and they got it from us,” McDaniel said.

“This is our 17th year sending freshmen students through this. It’s neat because many of our community volunteers who are helping today went through Reality Check as students.”


The business professionals who participate in YHS Reality Check are all volunteers.

“They are happy to help the kids and advise them,” said Cathy Patton, a Yukon Community Engagement advisory council member.

Patton noticed how many students were surprised they would be charged for utility service at their homes.

“You turn on the faucet to get water: ‘What do you mean I have to pay for it?’,” Patton said, parroting a familiar comment she heard. “They just figure you just flip a switch and the lights come on. Some don’t realize they have to pay for that.

“Many of the students want to live like their parents live now; that type of house and that type of car. Once they realize what they can afford, it’s a real eye opener.”

Patton, who has helped with Reality Check since 2002, enjoys educating the Yukon freshmen while helping enlist community members to participate in the event.

“I really appreciate the banks,” she said. “Most of the other businesses (who participate) don’t have money invested in this. The banks pay for checkbook ledgers and covers, and ink pens.”

YHS Leadership/Student Council advisor Darryl Andrews also has been part of Reality Check from the start.

“I think this is really important because these freshmen don’t have an idea what it takes to run a family,” Andrews said. “Going through Reality Check helps them respect their parents more … they understand they can’t get everything they want because there are bills and responsibilities every month.”

The event is a “good wake-up” call for freshman students, he added.

Andrews, who has taught at YHS since 1985, is impressed how many community sponsors participate each year at Reality Check. He believes it’s another example of the support the “Yukon community” has for its schools and students.

“Some of them have been here from the start, and they’re still here helping organize and getting volunteers,” he said. “The Community Ed (Engagement) office does a great job getting everything lined up.

“It’s just a great experience for everybody.”