Friday, May 20, 2016

TOP STORY >> Students make savvy investors

Warren Dupree fourth graders won second in Region 5. Isaiah Smith (from left), David Latcham, Jovani Lewis and Jakalyn Banks with JNPSD deputy superintendent Jeremy Owoh, their teacher Amber Bledsoe and Principal Janice Walker. Their teammate Emily Houston is not pictured.


Leader staff writer

When it comes to investing, ask Beebe High School freshmen.

The ninth graders took first and second place in Region 4 of the recent statewide Stock Market Game, and also took first and second back in the fall version of the education activity.

An upstart team of fourth-graders from Warren Dupree Elementary in Jacksonville garnered second place in Region Five, competing against more than 200 teams.

In all 7,300 students making up 2,459 teams competed in the spring version of the Stock Market Game. “It’s the largest number we’ve ever had,” said state coordinator Marsha Masters.

Winning teams in the elementary, middle and high school divisions from six state regions were honored at a luncheon last week at Verizon Arena. First-place teams received $100 per team, a trophy, Olympic-style medallions, T-shirts and certificates, not to mention bragging rights, a free luncheon and a couple of hours out of school. Second place teams won $50 per team, the medallions, T-shirts and certificates.

And bragging is what the Beebe teams and their economic teams did on a daily basis during the game. “It’s a friendly competition,” said Coach Art Bell. The three economic teachers, all coaches, have all their freshmen participate. “Overall, we probably had 50 teams in the competition this round,” Coach Mark Pinkerton said.

Bell’s team, consisting of Bianca Aguilon, Madi Barton, Hunter Free, Kyia Jackson and Chase Langston, finished second, while Pinkerton’s team, which included Jack Jennings, Callie Neal, John Nichols and Randy Smith, finished first. For Pinkerton, it was his second time finishing first with a team. “I did it back in 2012,” he said.

Bell finished second in both the spring and the fall version. “My teams may have been second both times, but I was the only one to get to go to the awards ceremony both times this year,” he bragged. The other economics teacher, Coach Richard Clevenger, had a first place team in the fall, but was out of the money this round.

Bell said his student team was actually in first for about half of the 10-week competition, made some stock moves and fell into the 30s. “We moved back up to second in the last days of the competition.”

Pinkerton loves the activity because it’s so much more than stocks and bonds. “Yes, the students get a good understanding of investment and its ups and down, but they also see it’s not just for the rich and you don’t need a big financial background. It’s about research, teamwork and keeping an eye on current events,” the coach said, adding, “It opens up opportunities for all our kids now and in the future.”

The coaches said the rankings are posted daily in the hallway and between classes students are checking. “There are always cheers, moans, discussions and a bit of bragging as students are in the halls between classes,” Bell said.

Freshman Hunter Free, a member of the second place team, was actually a veteran of the Stock Market Game. “I played it back in middle school.”

Did he do as well back then? “No, we finished near last,” he laughed.

He said the stocks his team purchased were all agreed on, at least by the majority of the team. “Most of the time we were in complete agreement. But I wanted IBM, but was out voted. Turned out good because IBM lost money during the game time,” Free said. The tip he offered was not buying stocks just because you like one. “Does it have a solid track record? Is it currently down, but poised to move up?”

Warren Dupree’s fourth-grade team of Jovani Lewis, Jackalyn Banks, David Latcham, Isaiah Smith and Emily Houston were nervous about the awards ceremony. “I’ve never won a medal outside of sports before,” said Jovani Lewis.

“I had stage fright,” said teammate Jackalyn Banks. “I’ve never been on a stage with that many people looking before.” There were about 250 people attending the luncheon.

Fourth-grader David Latcham called the game fun. “It got us to watch the stocks every day.”

The Stock Market Game is a national program of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) that allows students and teachers the opportunity to invest a virtual $100,000 in stocks, bonds and mutual funds throughout a 10-week simulation each semester.

Economics Arkansas has been the facilitator of this program in Arkansas since 1999.

Arkansas is divided into six regions and three divisions: elementary (fourth-sixth grades), junior high (seventh-ninth grades) and senior high (10th-12th grades).

The top two within each region for each division are honored at the state awards luncheons in January and May.

There is also a teacher division, where educators may compete against one another. The college and teacher divisions are statewide competitions.