Tuesday, May 23, 2017

TOP STORY >> Students stock up prizes

Leader staff writer

The top student stock market teams from around the state, including Jacksonville and Beebe, gathered recently at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock to be honored for their prowess at making money.

But the event saluting the top 1.5 percent of the 8,000 participants had a more somber than celebratory aura about it as one of the young winners had died a week earlier in floods that had ravaged parts of the state.

Rosie Howard, a 10-year-old from Robert E. Lee Elementary in Springdale, who had teamed up with classmate Angela Albarran to take second place in the Region 1 elementary division, was found dead after she had jumped a fence in her backyard and landed in a ditch of fast moving floodwaters. She was one of seven Arkansans to die in that late April storm.

Arkansas Economics, which sponsors the Stock Market Game and the banquet, invited Rosie’s family to the event. Ray Hobbs, president and CEO of Hart Tackle Co. and chairman of the Economics Arkansas Foundation, took a few minutes to pay tribute to Rosie and her enthusiasm and excitement for life whenever he saw her at school.

“She was always working on a project to make the school better,” Hobbs said.

When it came to the winning Beebe teams it was the girls against the guys and the girls took first. The team of Madelyn Elkins and Abby Patterson took home a trophy, medallions, certificates and shared $125 cash. The pair, along with their adviser Lori Shannon, were asked to speak to the gathering of young financiers.

Shannon said it was hard to express the feelings and energy she saw in the classroom when the students were involved in the nine-week virtual-reality stock market activity.

“Students were handed $100,000 in virtual computer money and told to invest it. The game put the students’ minds in a place they had not been before. You can’t get this type of experience or training out of a book,” Shannon said.

“There was excitement in the classroom … electricity in the air,” Shannon added.

Elkins and Patterson, both eighth graders, said they would use what they learned from the game to their benefit when they got older.

Because the game was for a relatively short time, Elkins said the team looked for volatile stocks that were on the move, “but it was very unpredictable.”

Patterson added, “That too many stocks in one area was not good, so we spread out our choices to create a safety net.”

The Beebe guys, Alex Holland, Zach Joyner and Jaime Rodriquez, and their coach Mark Pinkerton took second place in their division and region and the students shared $75 cash, plus a trophy, medallions and certificates.

Pinkerton, who splits his time between coaching and teaching economics, said the activity shows the students that this is something “they can do, and that they can start early.” One of the objectives for Pinkerton is for students to understand how current events can affect stocks. “What happens in Washington, D.C., or overseas, is important,” Pinkerton said.

In Region Six, the Arnold Drive Elementary team of Chauncey Butler, Khalia Lockett, Loren Markham and Khalil Lockett, took second place and shared $75 cash.

“We actually got $20 each because our teacher chipped in five more dollars,” explained Butler.

Arnold Drive also had the top elementary financial writer in the state. Fifth-grader Mackenzie Turner nabbed top honors with her essay, “If Life Gives You Questions, Google Gives You Answers,” in the Investwrite contest, an offshoot of the Stock Market Game. She won $75 all for herself.

In her essay, Turner wrote, “Back in the old days, if people needed information it was off to a row of heavily-bound encyclopedias, looking for the right volume, then searching by hand for the correct page. Boy, they had it tough. Now when life gives you questions, Google gives you answers. Google has become such a large part of our lives today it is more than a company name, it’s a verb – ‘just Google it.’”

She closed her essay saying, “Google has been the second most valuable brand in the world, behind only Apple Inc. in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, with a valuation of $133 billion. As of November 25th Google’s stock price was $780.23 a share. This can be considered a reasonable price for a long-term investor that has time to wait for continued growth.

“My recommendation for a long-term investor would be to purchase as much Google stock as financially possible. Google has had many large price swings, but over time the swings have turned upward for great profit. Google is still considered a young company and is continuing to grow.”

The national contest, sponsored by the Security Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation, asked students to describe a company that was started by one or two people and evolved into a major company and a good investment.

The winning Arnold Drive stock market team had advice for those wanting to invest, “Buy when the stocks are low.”

Khali Lockett said they looked at companies they knew, but more importantly looked for good numbers and rankings.

All elementary schools, plus the middle school, in the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District participated.