Students off to markets in annual competition

113 teams from regional institutions participate in stock contest

Teacher Mary McCoy, left, with her
Teacher Mary McCoy, left, with her "5PSNPOD": from left, rear: Hailey Cramer and Mary Castor. In front, from left: Aubrey Nemire, Sydney Salazar, and Lauren Norden. The rest of Mary McCoy's sixth grade class are behind them. A group of students in Mary McCoy's sixth grade class-at Arbor Hills Junior High in Sylvania formed stock market team-"5PSNPOD"-for the Blade School Stock Contest.

Lauren Norden’s iPhone played an important role in how her team made its initial picks for The Blade’s School Stock Contest.

The sixth-grade student at Sylvania’s Arbor Hills Junior High School said her phone, along with other popular technology such as iPads and Kindle Fire tablets, heavily influenced the companies that 5PSNPOD chose. Lauren figured companies like Apple Inc. and Inc. — two of the team’s choices — must do well because the products they produce are must-have items for her peers.

The team’s other holdings include Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

“We used things that we have — I have an Apple iPhone,” the 12-year-old said. “We thought the products we used would be more popular.”

The Blade’s annual 12-week stock contest includes 113 teams from schools in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

The teams will duke it out to earn the highest-valued portfolio by the event’s conclusion.

The competition began Friday and runs through April 26. The deadline to sign up was Jan. 25.

Teams were allowed to choose four stocks worth at least $5 a share. Each team has got a hypothetical $40,000 budget, and the funds were allocated evenly among the four stocks.

The participants have one chance to change their stocks March 8.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the team with the best-performing portfolio will win $250 for the students and $250 for the school. Second-place will receive $250 for the school, and third place gets $100 for the school. The prizes can be cash or gift certificates.

Last year’s winning team turned that hypothetical $40,000 into $52,868 in just 12 weeks.

The contest is sponsored by The Blade’s Newspaper in Education program, Fifth Third Bank, the Taylor Automotive Family, and the University of Toledo, which calculates the results.

“Fifth Third Bank believes in financial empowerment for everyone in our community and that is precisely why we have partnered with The Blade on this educational contest,” said Ronald Belle, investment advisers executive and senior vice president at Fifth Third.

“It’s never too early for children to learn about finances and the stock market, and we are pretty surprised at how well the students actually do with their stock picks, particularly so with the younger kids who have never been exposed to the concept of investing,” Mr. Belle said.

This year’s stock choices, which favor companies such as Apple, Google Inc., Amazon, and Netflix Inc., should make for a close competition, Mr. Belle said.

The teams diversified their portfolios and chose stocks that would deliver during the next 12 weeks, Mr. Belle said.

“They did a nice job of looking at some different sectors. I see an energy sector, I see a financial sector, I see consumer staples. The teams have done a nice job of diversifying. Diversification is key,” he said.

Mary McCoy, who teaches Lauren’s math class at Arbor Hills, had a team of students finish third in the contest last year. Although her students didn’t finish in first place, Ms. McCoy is hopeful her current students can repeat some of last year’s success.

This marks the second year she’s participated in the program.

The contest is a good way to teach lessons about fractions, positive and negative numbers, and investing, Ms. McCoy said.

“It’s just the idea of what a stock is. They have no idea about buying into a company,” Ms. McCoy said.

Beth Huffman, a math teacher at Toledo’s Byrnedale Elementary whose students won the contest last year, said some of those same students are participating this year. Ms. Huffman said she’s hopeful one of her teams will have a similar run.

Ms. Huffman, who teaches math to seventh and eighth-grade students, said she has three teams competing this year.

“They made some great choices, and I’m very eager to see how it goes,” she said. “Last year, Apple was the big stock and none of my teams [this year] chose Apple.

“I did try to re-emphasize more that this isn’t real life, and you have to pick something fast.”

Contact Kris Turner at: or 419-724-6103.