SELENA SWARTZFAGER: Mississippi students in the top 10, and it is a good thing this time

Selena Swartzfager

Selena Swartzfager

This summer a teacher and three young men from rural Mississippi traveled to our nation’s Capitol. This was not your ordinary sight-seeing vacation. While they did visit several Smithsonian museums, Capitol Hill and the monuments, they also attended meetings at Morgan Stanley, RKC Investments and FINRA. Nelson Robbins, Wyatt Noris and Trent House, all rising 11th-grade students, were in Washington, D.C., for a celebration. These young men were participants in the 11th Annual Stock Market Game™-Capitol Hill Challenge (CHC) national program where they placed in the top 10 teams with the highest return on their portfolios. All members of Congress were matched to student teams competing in the CHC. Approximately 15,000 middle and high school students took part in the 2014 competition, representing 731 schools and 537 members of Congress.

This 14-week competition among teams of middle and high school students organized by congressional district and state is a special version of the Stock Market Game™ where student teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash while simultaneously learning the value of saving and investing as they work together to maximize the return of their portfolio. Mississippi was represented by 12 teams of young people paired with Sens. Cochran and Wicker and Reps. Thompson, Nunnelee, Palazzo and Harper. The winner at the “end of the day” was Sen. Wicker and a team of students that attend Central Academy in Macon.

Nelson Robbins, Wyatt Noris and Trent House, all rising 11th grade students, pose with Sen. Roger Wicker.

Nelson Robbins, Wyatt Noris and Trent House, all rising 11th grade students, pose with Sen. Roger Wicker.

Wyatt Noris, one of the young men on the winning team, said the following about his experience with the Stock Market Game, “I walked into the Stock Market Game as a total beginner. From the get-go my teacher began teaching me a foreign language. He would use terms such as GDP, PPI, VIX and DELTA. But after a while, this language became understandable. I learned how risk and reward are related. We took this new knowledge and traded stocks in the Capitol Hill Challenge and we did well enough to win a trip to Washington, D.C.”

The curriculum-based Stock Market Game is offered by the Mississippi Council on Economic Education in Mississippi and is a program of the SIFMA Foundation to help students develop a better understanding of the global economy, strengthen their personal financial skills and improve their knowledge of math, economics and business. The Mississippi team outperformed the Standard and Poor’s 500 by 41 percent. They grew their portfolio to $146,831.55. The next question is likely to be, “how did they do this?” Their achievement is a result of a highly skilled teacher, Dr. Os Barnes, and investments made in companies such as Plug Power. Dr. Os, as he is called by his students, stated, “The Mississippi Council on Economic Education is a true gem among our state treasures. With an affable, capable staff, the Council provides help and encouragement for our teachers of economics and personal finance. Every school in our state should participate in the Stock Market Game. It is fun, competitive and instructional.”

It is time to celebrate where Mississippians are winning. In this ranking Mississippi is in the top 10, and this time it is a good thing.

Contact the Mississippi Council on Economic Education for information on how teachers and students can participate in the 2014-2015 Stock Market Game.

Selena Swartzfager is president of the Mississippi Council for Economic Education. She can be reached at swartsc@millsaps.edu.

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