The Real World comes to Middlesboro High School

Published 5:02 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

By Jay Compton


Middlesboro High School’s Youth Service Center presented the annual Real World program last week. Several area businesses set up tables in the gym to give students a first hand look at what daily expenses will be like when they’re out on their own.

The program was started by MHS YSC director Joy Williams over 25 years ago.

“The Real World is a program we started doing in the late 90’s when I was in the LMU Social Work program. I did my internship here and had to do a group project and this is what I developed,” she said.

The students are assigned a job and an income on paper and are shown how much is taken out by Uncle Sam for taxes. Then they go visit each table and make choices about what to purchase. They see how those choices affect their checking account.

“I talk to the students the day before about how their school attendance and how well they do in their classes is directly related to how much they’re going to be able to earn in adulthood and how far they can go in life,” Williams said. “We have area businesses here in the gym — banks, real estate agents, KU, the hospital, car sales and insurance agents, Food City and all of these places — they help the kids experience what the cost of living is actually like.”

Williams said the program is possible thanks to the cooperation and participation of so many local businesses.

“The businesses are really good about interacting and trying to educate the kids about keeping up with their bank balances and credit cards,” she said. “Hopefully the students will remember some of what they learned today and use it when they’re making their goals for what they want to do with their lives.”