Teacher Jeannette Otley (left) congratulates Lucas Attia, a student from H.B. DuPont Middle School who placed sixth nationally in the InvestWrite essay competition. At right are his parents, Caroline and Magdy Attia.

Playing stocks

Student Stock Market Game, InvestWrite winners celebrated

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10:02 a.m., June 8, 2012--Student teams from Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, P.S. duPont Middle School and the Tatnall School were honored for their winning picks in the Stock Market Game (SMG) at an awards reception held Tuesday, June 5, at the University of Delaware’s Newark campus.

In addition, three individual students from North Star Elementary School, H.B. duPont Middle School and Appoquinimink High School received awards for their accomplishments in InvestWrite, a national essay competition produced by the SMG.

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This spring, almost 1,100 students in Delaware working on 255 teams participated in the 10-week contest, which has been administered by UD’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) since 1983.

“It’s wonderful to see so many people come together for this event,” said Jim O’Neill, director of the CEEE. “A variety of things contribute to education, but seeing the students, parents, grandparents and administrators here shows that education is a team effort. I commend everyone for working together in the learning process.”

O’Neill noted that one of the big challenges in competing in a global economy is basic skills education but he also said collaboration is extremely important.

“You can’t collaborate unless you communicate,” said O’Neill. “In the Stock Market Game we can really see elements where this collaboration is taking place.” 

From March 5 to May 11, the student teams participated in an educational Internet simulation of Wall Street and invested a hypothetical $100,000 in a portfolio of common stocks traded on the New York, American and NASDAQ exchanges. 

“The students researched companies, stock performance and studied the economy,” said Marion Jacobs, coordinator and staff member at the CEEE. “They didn’t just make snap decisions -- they followed their portfolios and rankings conscientiously throughout the 10-week game period.”

At the end of the game the team in each of the three grade-level divisions with the highest value portfolio was declared a winner.

Stock Market Game winners

In the elementary division with teacher Nancy Ventresca, Naomi Dawkins, Jessica Martin and Brianna Miles from Thurgood Marshall Elementary School selected stocks that closed with a portfolio value of $107,506.51.

“We learned how the stock market works and affects company shares,” said Martin. “We also learned about collaboration and working as a team.”

Dawkins said the team chose to invest in Verizon because of how much people use cell phones and cable, while Miles said the team tried to diversify its portfolio by buying shares from companies like Apple and Disney. 

In the middle school division with teacher Renay Mercer Gore, Benjamin Britton, Keja Dobson and Jackie Kozloski from P.S. duPont selected stocks that closed with a portfolio value of $105,884.26.

The team made some of its investment decisions based on announcements of company products.

“We chose Apple which had been doing very well at the time due to disclosing they would release a new iPad and were developing the next iPhone,” said Britton.

Richard Werbe, coached by teacher Henry Fisher, took the win in the high school division with a closing portfolio value of $110,846.16.

“As a single team member, Richard did remarkably well growing his portfolio at a 10.8 percent growth rate,” said Jacobs.

Werbe credited his teacher, a friend with real investments and some luck in shorting stocks to his win.

“First off I’d like to thank my teacher for encouraging me to do the game and supporting me and keeping me updated,” said Werbe. “Basically I made two investments by looking at the market and seeing what seemed overvalued.”

The first was Zenga, which Werbe said his friend had real money invested in, and the second was Bank of America, which Werbe said he had been following since the beginning of the recession and noticed a cycle in their stock.

“The value of Zenga went from $12 to $6, so of course my friend lost his money but I did well in the game,” said Werbe. “The SMG gave me the perfect time to experiment with shorting.”

InvestWrite winners

Unique this year to InvestWrite, a national essay competition open to students in grades 4-12 that evaluates students’ overall understanding of the stock market and their ability to write critically on investment strategies, Delaware also boasted a national winner. 

Lucas Attia from H.B. duPont Middle School under teacher Jeannette Otley not only won the middle school division in Delaware but took sixth place nationally.

For the essay, Attia was prompted to select three stocks in different industries that paid dividends and explain why he chose them, using lessons from the SMG, to convince an adult on the soundness of his advice.

“I picked Intel, Johnson and Johnson and Chevron based on dividend rates, consistency in the industry and consumer faith,” said Attia. “I explained that I would reinvest the money because it is a good way to gain capital investment.”

Jack Werb from North Star Elementary School under teacher Margo Miller, and Lauren Camp from Appoquinimink High School under teacher Veronica Marine, were winners in the elementary and high school divisions, respectively. 

For his grade division topic, Werb was prompted to imagine his cookie jar suddenly came to life and wanted to keep his money and he had to convince the cookie jar that investing the money would help him reach his goal faster.

“I named my cookie jar Karl, that’s Karl with a ‘K’,” said Werb. “My goal was saving money for a house and I had to explain to Karl that I’d barely save enough money keeping my money in his jar and learned the stock market is a much better place to invest your money in.”

Article by Kathryn Meier

Photo by Duane Perry

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