Eighth-graders urged to envision life at age 28
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 19, 2014 11:26PM
Eighth graders rotate between 11 stations on Thursday during Envision the Future at the Porter County Expo Center. | Sun-Times Media
For more on programs sponsored by the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, go to www.valparaisochamber.org.
Updated: April 21, 2014 5:49PM
VALPARAISO — Lindsay Holderread clutched a budget and a new understanding of grown-up life Wednesday.
The Washington Township Middle School eighth-grader wanted to be a school counselor, but was rethinking her plans and toying with the idea of something with a higher income.
Lindsay, 14, of Valparaiso, was one of more than 900 eighth-graders from throughout Porter County to attend Envision the Future, a peek at life at age 28 put together by the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and held at the Porter County Expo Center.
“I thought it was pretty neat, because I didn’t realize my parents had to do this,” Lindsay said, showing her budget, adding she ended up with “a really small amount” of money at the end of the exercise.
The program, which includes all the middle schools in the county except those in Portage and Chesterton, which hold their own events, has been a chamber tradition for more than 15 years, said Kurt Gillins, the chamber’s programs director.
About 100 volunteers from the business community staffed the 11 booths that were part of the exercise.
“I think it’s an outreach program for the chamber to support education, and it allows chamber members to interact with some of their future employers,” Gillins said.
At the utility table, Amy Uzelac, owner of The Great Frame Up, counseled students.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard to make ends meet,” she told one boy, before two girls came up to say they’d changed housing from condominiums to mobile homes to cut expenses, only to find out utility bills were higher for the mobile homes. “The kids are taking it seriously. They understand running out of money. It gives them a little insight.”
In addition to selecting careers, students also got to decide whether they would be married and have children – also an important consideration in adult life.
“I learned that starting out without kids is a really good choice. It’s a lot less expensive and you have a lot more money to spend for emergencies,” said Natalie Burchert, 14, an eighth grader at Washington Township who lives in Valparaiso.