By Debbie Marsh and Michelle Dech
Students at La Vernia High School almost missed out on an enrichment learning opportunity when Cabrera Capital Markets decided not to fund the online Stock Market Game after having done so the past two years for students in the San Antonio area. However, a local parent learned of the situation from her daughter, who is in Michelle Dech’s economics class, and has offered to fund the program as well as provide Visa gift cards for the members of the top three teams.
Parent Susan Shoemake decided it was a worthwhile investment of her own money. She will be footing the bill for about $1,000 to cover the $10 entry fee for each team in Dech’s classes along with teams from business teacher Cynthia Maldonado’s classes. Shoemake will shell out another $720 for the prizes to reward the top three La Vernia teams.
Shoemake explained why she felt this was important to her and to the students.
“As the LVHS PTO immediate past president, this was one of the projects that we supported,” she said. “After seeing how excited the seniors in the program have been, and seeing the incentive for participation and the awareness that it provides, as well as the encouragement it has for our future economic leaders, I wanted to help.”
The Stock Market Game begins with teams of 3 to 5 students and gives them a hypothetical $100,000 to invest in at least five different stocks, bonds, and/or municipal bonds.
“What makes the program so effective is that it works on real time and real prices of the stock exchange,” Dech said. “Stocks change constantly throughout the day and students notice that even though they bought the same stocks, the gains and losses can be different between teams due to the price variations and time purchased. Due to the volatility of the stock exchange, they also notice their stocks can be doing well enough to be in first place one day, and the next day, they could lose a lot on their stocks and be close to last place,” she explained.
La Vernia teams compete with other teams in the San Antonio area for the top three spots in the region and against each other for the top three places in La Vernia. Students check online at stockmarketgame.com to see how their team is fairing in the competition.
As a class project, students write a rationalization for buying and/or selling a particular stock, graph the performance of the stock while they own it, figure out their gains and losses, and find articles about the stocks they own and explain how it will affect their stock’s performance.
“This helps build skills and knowledge in critical thinking, decision making, cooperation and communication, independent research, and savings and investing,” according to Dech.
The students, as well as both teachers, are very grateful to Shoemake for her generosity in making this real-world experience a reality.
“It would have been such a lost learning experience,” Dech said. “I’ve had students in the past, who are now investing because of what they learned through this experience.”