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High School Students Trump Stock Market

Mock-investing project yields high returns despite market turbulence.

A bear market is no
obstacle to Hart District teams participating in the Stock Market Game, with
local teams holding six of the top ten slots in both the middle school and high
school divisions.


Linda Cox' teams from
West Ranch High School Introduction to Business classes came in first, second,
fifth, sixth and ninth, with the top team turning its initial $100,000 virtual
investment into $126,903, for a growth rate of more than 58 percent over the S
& P 500 index. Cox was named No. 1 teacher in the state for her work on the


Academy of the Canyons,
with advisor Victoria Rubay, came in seventh in the high school division.


In the middle school
division, Rio Norte Junior High, coached by Mindy Moore, came in second, sixth,
seventh and eighth. Jeffrey Aronsky's teams from La Mesa Junior High came in
third and fifth.


ImageThe game had student
teams scanning the stock reports, researching companies and national economies,
and scrambling to turn each market downturn and upturn into a financial


Zachary Fagan, a
freshman at West Ranch, was the top winner out of 616 teams participating in
the game from Southern California. The 14-year-old
Stevenson Ranch resident earned a "profit" of nearly $27,000 on his virtual
investment of $100,000 over the 15-week game period.


Zachary's portfolio and
investment strategy utilized class discussions of the poor economy and probable
stocks investments, according to Cox.  He
also researched analyst opinions on Yahoo-Finance to find companies that were performing
poorly and would then sell these stocks short to gain profits.  


Some of his largest gains came from Wachovia and AIG, which he bought at
their highs, sold them when they collapsed and made huge gains.  After the success of Wachovia and AIG, Zachary also
researched many different regional banks and retail companies that were deemed
by the press to be near default. 


West Ranch students Samantha Doucette and Katherine Koury teamed up to
earn second place in last semester's game, taking their virtual $100,000 to
$119,724. Their portfolio performed 51 percent above the S & P 500 index.
They also used short-selling techniques, targeting high-end retailers such as
Tiffany Jewelers, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstroms, and
investing their profits in budget-minded consumer retail stocks such as
Wal-Mart and Target.


West Ranch also fielded the fifth and sixth place teams. Fifth place
teammates Nedal Zayyad, CJ Espino Gonzoga and Alex Zheng traded their $100,000
to $111,401. Sixth place went to Ian Smither and Zander Melisaratos, with a
final portfolio value of $109,801.


Academy of the Canyons student Aaron Savelli placed seventh in the
game, and West Ranch teammates James McDaniel and Dan Call took the ninth place


In the middle school division, Rio Norte Junior
High student Tristan Townsend placed second, coming in just over 31 percent
higher than the S & P index. The Valencia
seventh grader turned her $100,000 virtual investment into $100,005. "I kept
telling my kids that if they can stay as close to their original $100,000 in
today's economic times, then they were doing pretty good!" explained Moore, Rio
Norte's SMG advisor.


Townsend reported that she bought stock in a
company that she enjoyed-the Cheesecake factory!  She also bought stock in Borders Books, but
sold shortly after buying it as it wasn't doing very well. She held onto the
Cheesecake Factory stock throughout the game.


Third place in the junior high school
competition went to a team from La
Mesa Junior
High School. Ricardo Medina and
James Mendoza collaborated on a portfolio that came in at $98,957 in a rough
market, but still beat the S & P index by 30 percent. La
Mesa also had the fifth place team,
composed of Joseph Lilly, Kendall Medina, David Edwards and Minna Flores.


Three more Rio Norte Junior High teams came in
right behind the La Mesa
team, taking sixth through eighth place. Less than one tenth of one percent
separated the three runners-up. Team members were Justin Cole, Daniel Joseph
and Corey Sterenbach, sixth place; Austin Yi, Andrew Hine and Andrew Dooley,
seventh place; and Jonathan Scarano, Josephine Lee and Justin Yoo, eighth


Object of the Stock Market Game is to beat the S
& P 500 without losing a lot of money. Students taking part in the game
learn life skills and financial literacy and reinforce skills such as math,
reading, social studies, computer technology and science.


"Students must manually figure out their math calculations
before entering transactions," Aronsky explained. "Students learn to read stock
reports and newspaper articles and determine what effects national and world
events have on the market. The game gives them a full awareness of the world
around them."


In addition to serving as an advisor to La Mesa
Junior High Schools teams, Aronsky serves as regional representative for SMG
for Southern California.


In addition to studying the stock market, students
who participate in the game are required to write a proper business letter to
one company that they purchase to request a stock report and any samples that
the company chooses to send. Students learn to write term papers by writing a
research paper on their companies, using the Internet and other tools. 


Students also explore the types of jobs that
each company offers and then go on the explore careers within that
company.  As part of their study, students
learn how to write resumes, develop interview skills and research how to dress
for success.


Mesa runs about 50 teams per
semester," Aronsky continued. "They learn practical everyday life skills that
are needed to survive in the real world."


The West Ranch teams have received a special
invitation from Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon to participate in a Capital
Hill Stock Market Challenge held across the nation in April and May. Winner of
that competition receives a trip to Washington,
Last year, West Ranch finished in
fourth place in this separate nationwide challenge.

High School Students Trump Stock Market

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