For the third year in a row, a team from Desert Vista High School won a Valleywide competition designed to simulate a day on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
The fourth annual Stock Market Challenge, put on by Junior Achievement of Arizona, took place at the Biltmore Hotel Oct. 29 and featured 350 high school students. Desert Vista took five teams to the competition and claimed the top two spots.
Students bought and sold stock from 26 fictitious companies over the course of three hours. Each team started with $500,000 in their account and the first place Desert Vista team finished with just under $3 million.
"It's really exciting and fast-paced," said Corbett Milbourn, a junior from Desert Vista. "It has a very realistic feel to it. You are always clamoring to get to a trader, like in the (NYSE)."
The room in which the competition takes place features giant video screens with rolling prices and traders with PDAs to update the stocks in real time. The competition is designed to teach students about making smart decisions in investments and, more importantly, with their education, said Junior Achievement president Joyce Richards.
"We are teaching our high school students how the stock market is an integral part of our free market system," Richards said. "This is a hands-on learning experience. They learn fundamentals in the classroom before hand: how you diversify, how to calculate return on investment. Then when they participate in the experience, the students are actually living it. They are buying and selling, watching changes, making decisions. It's leaving a deeper impact."
The first year they won, DV almost did not attend the competition over fall break and, thus, interest was somewhat low. Bernie O'Keefe, business teacher at DV who coaches the teams, said he had one senior that year who wanted to do it. Eventually, O'Keefe pitched the idea to his freshman Computer Application class and secured three more members.
"We took the three freshman that year who had no idea what it was about," O'Keefe said. "But they were very quick learners and we ended up winning. It's just been growing ever since. I've never had to recruit, the team members themselves recruited every year."
One of those was freshman Milbourn, who did a lot of recruiting for this year's team.
"I tell them that we won the last few years and the competition gets your adrenaline pumping," Milbourn said. "Everyone seems to get interested."
Junior Achievement of Arizona conducts 25 other programs in addition to the Stock Market Challenge.
"Everything we teach carries a strong message of staying in school and continuing education," Richard said. "We tell them it will change your quality of life."
To find out more about Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit their website, www.jaaz.org.