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Published: Wednesday, 11/2/2005

Springfield: Stock donation lets student attend shareholder meeting


Christian Simpson, a senior at Springfield High School, will be sitting among the shareholders at the Microsoft shareholders meeting prepared to vote on the issues confronting the company.

He'll cast votes with a proxy from the Springfield Local School District's foundation, which owns the shares along with some others that were a gift from Roland Scharer.

Mr. Scharer contributed a few shares of Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and other technology companies to the foundation so students could track them and learn more about the stock market.

"I've met college graduates who tell me they don't know how [the market] operates,'' Mr. Scharer said. "I didn't give much, but I wanted it to be for their education."

Brad Turski, the teacher of the senior economics class that Christian, 17, attends, said the class maintains a fantasy stock portfolio and most have shares in the companies of which Mr. Scharer donated stock.

The class lasts seven weeks, and the portfolios must include both top tier stocks and shares of much less well-known and inexpensive companies.

He said that although fantasy portfolios are valuable as teaching tools, knowing that there are real securities adds to the interest the youngsters take in that portion of the class.

The class does not trade shares.

The trip to Seattle, Christian said, is an exciting opportunity to see the shared ownership of American business in action.

The student said that he has no precon-ceived ideas about what will take place, but views the trip as the chance for a learning experience that students don't often get.

Mr. Turski will be traveling with his student, and they will fly into Seattle the day before the Nov. 9 shareholders meeting and out the next day.

He said the learning experience will be invaluable and he will discuss events at the meeting with members of the class.

Mr. Scharer, 85, said he's not particularly involved in stock trading anymore but said it should be understood by everyone.

He said he was pleased to see that his contribution of a few shares of stock have created an active interest in the many of the youngsters who take the mandatory economics class taught by Mr. Turski.

He warns that there are no foolproof methods of making money in the stock market, but he suggests that one should look for a relatively new company which appears to be run by solid management.

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