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Who will "Thrive at 25"?

Sandy High students get glimpse of young adult responsibilities

Were you thinking about adult experience at the age of 14? Sandy High School's freshman are now.

On Thursday, May 7, the school's freshman gathered in the school’s gym for an interactive assignment. They were greeted by dozens of volunteers ready to help them learn to ‘Thrive at 25.’POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Heather Michet, of Sandys Iris Healing Arts, helps Sandy High students decide what insurance coverage they would need at age 25 during the schools Thrive at 25 event.

Sponsored by the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, Thrive at 25 is an event in which a student is told to choose a career and then wander the booths to see how his or her salary and expenses might measure up at the age of 25.

Students traveled around the gym stopping at booths to calculate monthly expenses. Booths had topics such as taxes, housing, insurance, cars, groceries and entertainment.

While the tax booth was busy much of the time, the childcare booth didn’t see too much crowding. As the event wrapped up, Superintendent Aaron Bayer walked up to the quiet booth with a question. POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Volunteers walked students through tallying up their expected expenses at age 25, including housing, insurance and groceries.

“How many kids did you turn away from having kids?” he asked with a laugh.

The volunteers at the table laughed, but admitted many students lowered their expectations for the number of children they want to have by age 25 because of childcare expenses.

“Usually it is a shock to people, adults too, of how much it costs,” said Dawn Loomis, a member of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce’s Career and Education Committee, which heads the event.

Jennifer McNeil, a Career Center coordinator at Sandy High School who has been involved with the event all three years, said they are thinking about pushing back the event’s chosen age to 35, changing its name to Thrive at 35 instead.

“In this day and age people are getting married later, starting families later,” she said, adding it is hard to expect every student to be established and settled at age 25.

Cassidy Moore, Layne Schilperoort and Megan Way were among the 325 freshman students to participate in the event. Schilperoort and Way both said they expected to have children by that age and lamented the extreme costs of childcare.

“Daycare is ridiculous,” Schilperoort said. POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Freshman students Layne Shilperoort, Cassidy Moore and Megan Way fill in reflection sheets after participating in Thrive at 25.

The three girls said some of the most surprising costs were car payments and entertainment.

After finishing her calculations, Cassidy said she was only negative $37 if she decided not to take a yearly vacation.

“I’m definitely going to have to work harder to make more money,” said Megan. “And be more smart about what (I) buy.”

“Only buy what you need,” agreed Cassidy.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - AntFarm Manager Sean Maloy, right, helps students spin the Wheel of Fortune to get a surprise cost at Thursdays Thrive at 25 event.

“One of the things I like about (Thrive at 25) is it was something I never learned when I was in school,” said Dawn Loomis, a member of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce’s Career and Education Committee, which puts on the event.

After the event, all of the participating students are asked to fill out a reflection form and provide feedback about the event.

“I think it was eye-opening for some of the kids … The overriding reflection is how much everything cost,” said McNeil citing entertainment and cell phones with multiple mentions. “Most 14-year-olds don’t think about that.”POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Students visited the H&R Block booth to calculate their taxes before adding up their final expenses.

Loomis, who also works in business and industry workforce training at Mt. Hood Community College, hopes this experience will motivate students to take the next step in the career ladder.

“Not everyone will go to college, or want to go to college,” she said. “But there’s other ways to gain that training.”

McNeil enjoys having the chamber involved in the annual event.

“We’re always looking to get the community involved in the school,” she added. “It’s a really good way for us to bring in folks from Sandy who might not come into the high school and spend time with the students.”POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - City Councilor and Realtor Carl Exner helps students decide what housing they would likely live in at age 25.