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High School Students get a Financial Reality CheckSubmitted: 04/29/2013
Story By Kailey Burton


Photos By Kailey Burton

MERRILL - If you lose the board game of Life, that's ok.... Financial failure in real life is not. Today Merrill high school students took a page from the reality "checkbook" .

Students chose a job, and were assigned "obligations". Those could be a mix of children, spouses, loans, and credit card debt.

"The students go through each station and they have to make decisions and it's determined by how much money they have in their budget for that month," said Deb Brunett, Business Teacher at Merrill High School, "I've heard quite a few of them say, 'Oh my gosh, I'm stressed out and I don't even have to do this yet!"

Learning to balance a checkbook is one thing… Learning about life is another. Brunett hopes her students will learn to prepare for the unexpected.

"If the furnace goes out, you don't always have three thousand dollars you can just take out. So hopefully getting them prepared for some of those unexpected things will help them out in the future," said Brunett.

In the real world of rising debt, and a sluggish economy, more students could probably use this kind of lesson. Their teachers hope this generation won't make the same mistakes.

"If you look at the last five years the foreclosures, they don't have emergency funds. People don't anymore. Some do but there's a lot that don't and times became hard, and they didn't have anything to back themselves up"

A number of area businesses added some realism to the event. The volunteers manned booths to represent different necessities.


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Collin Cooper, 18, said he's doing ok. He spent nearly seven days in the hospital, undergoing three surgeries to get the leg just below the knee on the right track to heal properly. He wraps an ace bandage around his left calf, which covers the wound. He also has stitches from where doctors made incisions during surgery. He also has a vacuum-assisted closure, or V.A.C., for the wound.

"I can't walk yet," Cooper said. "But they said I can put pressure on it in about three to four weeks, I think they said. But I wont be back to walking on it fully for three to four months."
He said doctors told him the bullet shattered 10 percent of his tibia, a major bone in the calf.

"They said the lucky part is it didn't hit any major arteries and it only nicked one vein," Cooper added.

Now Cooper has to sit at home and rest up. His blood levels are still low, and it hurts to hold his leg vertically. Several times a day he has to do ankle and knee exercises to strengthen the muscles around them. Otherwise he has to keep his leg elevated, even while he sleeps, which is in a hospital bed the family already had. He said it's hard sometimes to take it so easy because he's been on several sports teams throughout high school and is used to being very active.

He says when family and friends aren't visiting him at home, he plays video games and watches TV. He can't yet return to school, so he his doing some work from home.

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"I'm kind of bummed to be down right now but I'm thankful and lucky that it was just this and it could have been a lot worse," Cooper said.

He's been bombarded on social media, flooded with questions and friend requests. He's only posted several times since the shooting, with the #AntigoStrong hashtag that's been trending on social media since the prom.

The oldest of five has leaned on his faith, his family and his friends.

"I'm fine I just want people to worry about Collin," said Cooper's friend Spencer Fittante, 17, who was walking out of prom with Cooper when he was shot. Fittante helped tie a his tie around Cooper's leg as a tourniquet.

"I never thought anything like that would ever happen to us, ever," Fittante said.

Still, Cooper won't let the injury keep him from working this summer or walking across the stage at graduation. He joked about practicing walking up stairs with his crutches. He said he thinks his humor helps him cope.

He's proud of and humbled by the Antigo community. He said there are days when it gets hard, but he's got the support of his family and friends. He wants to move on, but he also thinks sharing his experience might be able to help others.

"It's cool to see how the town has rallied around me and the all the other victims," Cooper said. "I think it's kind of a cool opportunity to have to share with people what happened. And I can kind of help them through things too. So I mean I want to put some of it in the past but some of it I want to hold onto so I can be able to help people in the future."

Cooper said his date who was grazed by a bullet is also doing well. He said she is back at school in Illinois. Cooper still plans to work this summer and attend college in the fall. 

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