Ephrata High School students learn about the stock market – with 30,000 at stake | Together

Stock market simulations are a common school project in high schools across the country.

In these projects, students are given a certain amount of money, choose stocks to “invest” in, and follow the market to see what their returns would be if they had actually bought stocks.

A new club at Ephrata High School, however, is raising the bar. The Mounts Fund, an after-school club, has put $ 30,000 into play in a series of investments. Larry Hagen, the group’s advisor, says he doesn’t know of any other high schools using real money in scholarship projects.

And the group has already made a comeback: In its first year, the club’s – mostly conservative – investments grew 3.2%, taking the pot to $ 30,960.90. The funds have been transferred to this year’s club, which has the ability to sell and buy different stocks as they see fit.

The initial capital of $ 30,000 was provided by the Ephrata Area Education Foundation. Hagen, who teaches honors and advanced placement economics courses, contacted the Ephrata Area Education Foundation, which granted his request for club funding.

Mark Thompson, board member and treasurer of the foundation, said the request fulfills the foundation’s mission to provide financial support for educational programs that are innovative, unique and provide opportunities for students not covered by the district. .

“As a member of the business community, I can’t think of another experience that translates so well into the real life of the workforce,” said Thompson.

The board, he said, was extremely pleased with the results of the first year. But, Thompson says, with Hagen’s guidance, it was no surprise that students were learning to be good stewards of money.

Investment inspiration

The idea for the club arose after Hagen visited his son, Jory, at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, where he heard about a student-led investment group.

His goal for the club is to teach students in real time how the market works. This includes how to research and value stocks; present investment ideas; and work as a team to make informed financial decisions.

“The students learn about the stock market in the classroom, but the club teaches them how to invest real money in real businesses,” says Hagen.

The club started in the fall of 2019. As the school was closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the club was suspended until it was restarted during the 2020-21 school year. Investment purchases officially started in 2021.

In order to vote for which company stock to invest in, students must pass a certification exam that includes courses with associated videos and quizzes. Only members who complete the courses are eligible to be members of the Board of Directors. Those who do not take the courses cannot vote but can become junior analysts to research stocks. The student board manages the club. This year’s board members include President Kody Brown (senior), Vice President Owen Loose (senior); board secretary Tanner Eshleman (senior); and promotion agent Sydney Hornberger (junior).

Real money, real risk

Kai Mast, the club’s first chairman of the board (2020-21), praised what he learned about the invaluable investment strategy across the club. He was delighted to actively invest in the market.

“Using real money offers a different perspective with a sense of risk that you take seriously,” says Mast.

Mast, who graduated this year and is a freshman at Penn State University majoring in accounting, says being president has also helped him improve his public speaking skills. public.

Larry Hagen, left, and Kai Mast.

For sophomore Brown, the heated debates between teams representing the club’s portfolio of 11 companies in which he owns shares offer a real lesson in market investment.

The Vanguard Social Responsibility Fund owns the club’s portfolio of companies, he says, like CVS, Walt Disney, JP Morgan and Waste Management.

Currently there are 35 club members. They are all as a team to represent the different market sectors such as industry, health, public services, energy. They research, evaluate and present their recommendations to the student council, which votes on the shares to be purchased. Final approval of purchases is given by Hagen and the Ephrata Area Education Foundation.

“I wanted to learn the what, where and how to invest,” says Hornberger. She is happy to see other students at the club also interested in investing. As a promotions manager, one of his goals is to set up a slideshow presented on monitors throughout the campus so that all students at Ephrata High School can follow the club’s portfolio.

She says she learned a lot by getting certified to be able to vote on stocks. The certification process requires students to watch 29 videos at their own pace, which is approximately 10 to 15 hours.

Hagen points out that the investment club is an extracurricular activity and students work there in their free time.

“While we are very happy with our results in line with the major indices, the real goal of the club is to provide educational experiences for our students,” said Hagen.

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