A dose of reality for Yukon students

760 YHS freshmen see what it’s like to live on a budget

Yukon freshmen Jose Diaz-Benitez and Madelyn Pearsall learn to live on a budget during the 20th “Reality Check” at Yukon High School. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Some 760 Yukon High School freshmen got a dose of reality recently when they learned firsthand what it’s like to live on a budget.

Many participating students experienced some “wow” and “a-hah” moments during Yukon Public Schools’ 20th “Reality Check” March 30 inside the YHS auxiliary gym, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.

“It’s like the game of life in real time,” YPS Community Engagement Director D’Lynne McDaniel said.

“This is the largest class that’s even gone through in the 20th years we’ve had Reality Check. We divided them up into three sessions.”

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

During the event, Yukon ninth graders were each given a fictional profile that included their family make-up, income, occupation, and other details.

“They go to the back, get a check register and deposit money into their account,” McDaniel explained.

The YHS freshmen then visited various stations, such as housing, utilities, transportation, health, furniture, insurance, entertainment, childcare, and more.

The students had to make decisions as they paid bills and spent money based on their profile.

“The goal is for them to come out ahead – or at least even,” McDaniel said.

YHS freshman students Kenlea Jefferson (left) and Elaina Ballje stop by the Chance booth. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
Amir Clemmons (left) and Demarco Tate have an eye-opening, learning experience at Reality Check. They were among a record 760 YHS student participants. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
YHS freshmen learn about the costs of items like furniture, communications services and entertainment at various stations inside the YHS auxiliary gym. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)


For many ninth-grade students, this was an eye-opening experience to see how much certain things cost – particularly those recurring expenses their parents take care of.

“A lot of kids understand some of their bills,” McDaniel added. “They know they’re going to have a cell phone bill. They know they’re going to have a car payment and a house payment.

“But beyond that, they don’t realize what things like childcare and groceries cost each month.”

Local businesses and community members of Yukon volunteered to help oversee the Reality Check stations.

“We couldn’t do it without our amazing volunteers that come back,” McDaniel pointed out. “Some of our volunteers have been here for the full 20 years.

“We have volunteers who went through Reality Check while they were in school and are now working in the community.”

Also helping out at the 2023 Reality Check were YHS Student Council members and their advisor, “Mr. A” Darryl Andrews.

YHS ninth grader Ryan Jerman visits the Miller Cuts booth, manned by volunteer Jennifer Carel. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
YHS freshman Dallas Warren looks into purchasing auto insurance for his vehicle. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
YHS ninth graders Ian Greene and Ryleigh Tiger stop by the Tag Agency station. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
Yukon’s Larry Taylor (left) and other local realtors let YHS ninth graders know about today’s housing prices. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)