As kids, we've often heard from our teachers and our parents that what we are learning in school will be useful in our futures as adults. This is true in regards to the many subjects we took in school, especially English and math. On the same note, much of the education we received in school provided us with the knowledge that we were able to utilize the very day we learned it, such as reading. During the spring semester, 10 schools, 13 teachers and more than 500 students in grades four through 12 have been participating in the Stock Market Game program. Students have been gaining a real-life education that is preparing them not only for their futures, but also, for some students, providing a knowledge that they are using now to better prepare for continuing their educations. Jason, Brian and Nick are some of those students. The three seniors at Somonauk High School are one team of students participating in the SMG program this semester. All three are looking at what they've learned and beginning to use the education. Jason has used his own real money to invest in stocks and mutual funds. He knows the market can be risky but has had consistent luck with it so far and is looking to earn money for his college education. Both Brian and Nick also are thinking about using their new knowledge to invest some of their own money as well. The team has done pretty well, so far, in the SMG competition. At one point, their ranking went from 178 out of more than 3,700 teams in the state to 12th place within one week. They also have learned a lot from the program. “We have been looking at companies, even some we have never heard of,” Brian said. “We are reading the business section (in the paper) every day and learning about mergers and deals within companies to see how it effects their stocks.” Nick agrees. “Reading the business section of the paper gives us information on new products. We can then do some research and decide how we think the product will do before we decide whether to buy the stock,” he said. Kris Humes, a marketing and business education teacher at Somonauk High School, added that her students are able to tie current events to what is happening in the stock market. “For example, the students have learned that the unusually cold weather we have had in April has hurt retail sales,” she said. “Who's going to want to begin to buy summer wear when it is still snowing?” This is Humes' first year of participating in SMG. Although she knows her classes are competing against classes being taught by veteran teachers, such as her own previous Sycamore High School teacher, Cheryl Maness, Humes knows that it really isn't about the competition but rather the overall real life lessons her kids will gain. “Teaching personal finance is most important,” she said. “As an educator, it is one thing to teach out of a book, but for students to be able to begin applying what they've learned is much more valuable. I am most grateful to Edward Jones Investments and Castle Bank for sponsoring the program in DeKalb County and providing our students with this valuable learning opportunity.” On the other side of the county, teacher Scott Schumacher at DeKalb High School also is engaging his students in this opportunity. With 27 teams and a couple who have been in the top 10 throughout the weeks, he would agree that the program is a good diversion from the everyday routine. Schumacher takes it to another level by introducing Mark Hilde, an Investment Representative at Edward Jones Investments, to his class. Hilde provides additional real-life lessons to the students by talking with them about using their new education to advance their futures. He tells the students that the SMG is key as it teaches them about ownership in a company. “It is good to be connected to the real world,” Hilde said about the program, which includes researching companies. “Realize, though, that the game is short-term (three months) and consider stretching these investments that you are making over many years,” Hilde said in relation to a real-life perspective. Hilde continued to explain to the class that “The Stock Market Game shows how hard it is in the market with stocks going up and down. However, the SMG is done in a short time frame and therefore should be played using a different strategy than with your real long-term investments.” Hilde also tells the class that stocks do well at different times, something the team from Somonauk discovered when they bought stock in a candy company prior to the Easter holiday and found the stocks went up during the season and then back down after the season ended. Hilde also assessed one team's portfolio which had “high quality stocks, were well-known brand names and were from different industries. The portfolio, owned by the team of Kathy and Ashley, has been in the top 10 in the DeKalb County Challenge, in competition with Somonauk High School and Sycamore High School. As it nears the end of the SMG program and the DeKalb County Challenge competition, all of the teams and teachers are watching the rankings closely. Teams are making their final decisions and reviewing the markets. At the end of the day on Sunday, the SMG simulation will end and winning teams will be selected based on portfolio equity. No matter what teams emerge as the winners, though, the participating students from Cornerstone Christian Academy, Classical Education of Sycamore, DeKalb High School, Somonauk High School, St. Mary of DeKalb, Sycamore middle and high schools and Wright Elementary School will all be winners with the education they are receiving through The Stock Market Game program. The DeKalb County Challenge is an initiative implemented through sponsorship from Edward Jones Investments and Castle Bank and presented by the Illinois Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit organization housed in Northern Illinois University Outreach.
DeKalb County Challenge
Following are the portfolio rankings, as of April 19, of the schools participating in the DeKalb County Challenge competition. (Rankings may change on a daily basis as the stock transactions are processed at real-time prices, connecting the SMG experience with real life.)
Top 10 high school teams Team School % Return above/below S&P 500 Total Equity Teacher
ZZ531 - Sycamore High School (11.66) $114,500.04 Cheryl Maness ZZ533 - Sycamore High School (9.40) $112,236.84 Cheryl Maness ZZ523 - Sycamore High School (4.92) $107,755.52 Cheryl Maness ZZ528 - Sycamore High School (4.85) $107,684.03 Cheryl Maness ZZ529 - Sycamore High School (4.24) $107,078.63 Cheryl Maness ZZ1458 - Sycamore Classical (4.03) $106,277.25 Kim Cromer ZZ1457 - Sycamore Classical (2.87) $105,121.22 Kim Cromer ZZ1117 - DeKalb High School (1.80) $104,725.85 Scott Schumacher ZZ830 - Sycamore High School (1.68) $104,514.86 Carol Meitl ZZ1099 - DeKalb High School (0.69) $103,620.40 Scott Schumacher
Top 10 teams, grades four to eight Team School % Return above/below S&P 500 Total Equity Teacher
ZZ2425 - Paul T. Wright Elem. (6.53) $107,635.34 Zak Fitzenreider ZZ736 - Sycamore Middle School (4.29) $107,123.45 Dave Meyer ZZ924 - St. Mary School (2.35) $105,187.10 Susan Pelikan ZZ735 - Sycamore Middle School (2.25) $105,081.72 Dave Meyer ZZ2205 - St. Mary School (2.83) $104,496.42 Damon Geiger ZZ733 - Sycamore Middle School (1.52) $104,351.90 Dave Meyer ZZ2426 - Paul T. Wright Elem. (3.12) $104,230.80 Zak Fitzenreider ZZ737 - Sycamore Middle School (1.19) $104,021.42 Dave Meyer ZZ745 - Sycamore Middle School (1.01) $103,849.71 Dave Meyer ZZ928 - St. Mary School (0.84) $103,675.10 Susan Pelikan