Karena Denning, top right, reacts to her "child care costs" during the Reality Store event at Madison Junior High School on Friday.

Nearly 400 eighth-graders from MJHS, Shawe and Southwestern participated in the event, which helps students learn how far a paycheck goes with typical expenses being paid out.

Each student's base "income" was determined for them before the event by their current grade point average - the lower the GPA, the lower the income.

The students went to booths where money was deducted for groceries, communications, auto insurance, health and grooming, entertainment, furniture, utilities, child care, housing, medical insurance, transportation and more.

Reality Store volunteer Vicki Lundergan, bottom, works the "Crystal Ball" booth at the event. At this booth, students drew cards at random. Sometimes the cards brought fortune or unexpected expenses. Nick Mitchell is handed his clipboard after Lundergan added an extra $100 to his account because of a lucky draw at the booth. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)