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Poverty simulation meant to prevent high school dropout

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Students and staff participate in a poverty simulation at Mark Twain High School. Students and staff participate in a poverty simulation at Mark Twain High School.

There's a new push to keep kids in school and reduce the number of drop outs in Northeast Missouri. At Mark Twain High School, the drop-out rate is around 5%. It's a number school administrators hope to reduce through a poverty simulation at the school on Tuesday.

During the program, there was confusion and chaos as kids scrambled to figure out how to pay rent and look after their kids.

"I lost my kid so that's very stressful. I forgot to pick her up." Sophomore Logan Mickels said.

At Mark Twain High School, sophomore students are put through NECAC's poverty simulation to find out how a choice like dropping out of high school could affect every part of their life.

"The program is designed to help kids see the difference in making reactive choices and the results of their poor choices when it comes to securing a job, paying the bills and providing child care," Mark Twain Guidance Counselor Greg Gatson said,

Gatson said they want students to understand just how far an education can take them.

 "They need additional education, high school and beyond to be as successful as they possibly can be," he explained.

Leandra Bridgeman with NECAC said a simulation like this can deter students from dropping out.

"It's giving them a taste of what life would be like if they don't make good decisions, if they drop out of school, if they break the law, if they don't take care of their kids. All of the repercussions that come with those types of decisions." said Bridgeman.

Students said the message was delivered loud and clear.

Mickels added, "It really shows that if you don't go to college and your stuck working at a fast food restaurant with a kid. It's really hard."

Mark Twain High School has 217 students, 57 of those are sophomores.

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