CHEYENNE – While they might not be ready for their own show on Bloomberg, the students at Star Valley High School managed impressive gains in the stock market during their recent foray into the Capitol Hill Challenge (CHC) stock market competition.
According to Star Valley High School Business Teacher, Kent Eberspacher, the school put 10, four-person teams into the CHC, which offers the opportunity for students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in the stock market and manage a portfolio for about 16 weeks. Star Valley's top team managed to make about $16,000 in profit over that period of time to finish 268 out of nearly 4,500 teams. A group of younger students made just under $15,000 in that same period of time.
Star Valley's Entrepreneurship Class finished 268 out of 4,400 teams in the Capitol Hill Challenge, which offers students the chance to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in the stock market over a period of several months. Pictured are: Jacob Simpson, Kanisha Stephens, Kristina Fisher, Kade Izatt and Wyoming Senator and co-sponsor of the Star Valley team, Dr. John Barrasso.
The winning school – High Technology School of New Jersey, ended the competition with a portfolio of $321,000. Eberspacher said at one point the top Star Valley team was in 103rd place and were less than $10,000 away from a trip to Washington, DC.
The CHC is a special edition of The Stock Market Game™ (SMG) program that matches Members of Congress with students, teachers, and schools benefiting from SMG in their respective district or state. Students invest in an online portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The top five student teams win a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet their members of Congress and tour the capitol.
Eberspacher said the students were put into teams after going through a general study of the stock market. Students learned what is a stock, common stock, preferred stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The students at Star Valley were given individual portfolios to invest with prior to the start of the game to gain their own understanding of the market. Students in both Dahl Simpson's upper level Entrepreneurship courses were eligible for the CHC as well as Eberspacher's ninth and 10th grade business students.
"I think what we taught them was diversification," Eberspacher said. "I had some students with as many as nine or 10 different stocks and some that had two or three stocks.
Eberspacher said not all of his students' trades were done through traditional research methods.
"I was a bit frustrated with the younger students because they all picked Netflix," Eberspacher said. "It was like one person did it and then all of them had to do it. They didn't follow the research we had done in class. But, one day Netflix went up $45 in a day. So I guess, so much for research."
Star Valley was originally invited into the competition and sponsored by former US Senator Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming). After he passed, his successor, Dr. John Barasso (R-Wyoming) continued to sponsor Star Valley in the competition. Eberspacher said Senator Barasso met in-person with the students in Feb. before making sure his representatives in Rock Springs checked in every two weeks.
"When he (Barasso) came they talked portfolio, talked stock market," Eberspacher said. "That was a positive experience for these 14 year olds who don't have an interest those things and they came away excited about what is going on in the United States in this way."
Eberspacher said in 2010, a team from Star Valley took third place overall in the competition and received a trip to Washington, D.C. He added that until a late dip in the market, the Star Valley team was actually tops in the country for much of the competition.
"Would set up a WEN between Lusk and SV to talk stock market, portfolios and the teachers kept out of it and let the students carry on a meeting.