Students carry fake babies for a class project

Fiona Thomas

Seeing juniors and seniors carry around a baby doll in high school is a strange sight, but for two weeks each semester several classes of students were doing exactly that as a school project for sociology class.

Called the “family project” but commonly referred to by students as the baby project, students get together in partners and simulate having a family by taking care of a toy doll and creating a budget. 

Ashley Reamsnyder, WSHS sociology teacher, said the purpose of the  project is for students to know what it is like to be the mom and dad in a family, which gives them a look into the adult world.

Reamsnyder, to begin the project, had the students choose their partners by writing down their top three choices. To help choose a partner, students partake in a speed dating activity to familiarize themselves with other people in the classroom. 

Speed dating was fun because you get to talk to people you’ve never talked to before,” said Avery Parsell, senior.

Reamsynder, to simulate a real life budget, had students create a budget. The students’ budgets included car and house bills, baby care, a food budget, and various other costs. 

Realistic and frustrating,” said senior Gerick Sembrano. “There are so many things you have to keep track of!” 

Mason Fletcher, junior, said, “I thought it was interesting to budget all of my money, but it was stressful.”

Reamsynder had the budgeting process include “reality checks,” which were random events that affect your budget as part of her effort to make the project more realistic. Some of the examples included a pipe bursting, losing money from gambling, having another baby, and your windshield breaking. “They were crazy expensive but really eye opening,” said Haleigh Still, junior.

To stop students from mishandling their baby, Reamsyner included extra credit which was given to people who document someone not taking care of their baby. Perspectives on this practice are mixed on how effective it was. 

“I would have probably just left my baby in my car… if it hadn’t been for the extra credit,” Brendan Cleaver, senior said. Gwendolyn Nicholson a junior, however, said, “People who mishandle their babies will continue to do so. We are all aware it’s not real so sometimes there is just not enough care for it.”

Students also had issues with other people messing with their baby. Reamsnyder said, “I think there are people who run around trying to harass people with babies.”  For example, Mia Cottingham said there were people who hit her baby. 

You get a lot of people that talk, steal the babies, and give you weird looks,” said Nicholson. “My baby was kidnapped; it kind of sucked,” said Travis Munster, a senior.

Students had ideas about how to make the project better. “We should have a baby that cries and does all the other things a baby does,” said Keston Hall, a senior. 

Nicholson said that they think there should be more options for childcare.  “We aren’t allowed to have babysitters, which I find highly unrealistic,” she said.

Parsell wants the project to be longer; whereas, Still wanted the project to be shorter.

Many students favorite part about the project was the baby. Parsell, Munster, and Sembrano all said that carrying the baby was their favorite part of the project. 

“The thing I enjoyed the most about the baby project is being able to carry around a baby and seeing what it is like to be a parent, “ said Mia Cottingham.