News Column

Marathon students beat all others in South Florida in Stock Market Game

May 24, 2014

By Ryan McCarthy, Florida Keys Keynoter, (Marathon, Fla.)

May 24--Marathon High School juniors Kevin Rivadeneyra and Melanie Lopez-Menendez earned a combined $19,691 in just 10 weeks trading on the New York Stock Exchange this semester.

It was hypothetical money, but the pair's market savvy was good enough to earn them first place among 390 stock portfolios from 20 different South Florida schools in the long-running Stock Market Game sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation.

The pair accepted their first-place award at the foundation's awards ceremony in Boca Raton on Tuesday.

Elizabeth Bayerl is an economics teacher at Marathon High and oversees student portfolios each year. She said the competition, which ran from early February through April 18, can be intensive.

"We from year to year complete the game as a major assignment. Following the results, students develop portfolios and presentations on what they have invested in," she said.

"They have to research companies and develop graphs and reports that indicate how they did on the portfolios."

Playing the market is a gamble, but it turns out Rivadeneyra and Lopez-Menendez taking a flyer on an up-and-down JCPenney stock won them the competition. They invested $55,000 of their imaginary $100,000 starting pot in the department store chain.

"They invested $55,000 and it had nothing to do with something anybody said. They were given computer time and [it was explained] what they wanted to look for," Bayerl said.

At one point, the team's portfolio had risen to more than $130,000, but the JCPenney stock lost "quite a bit in the two weeks before the end of the game."

"There are many analysts predicting it's not doing well because the store isn't doing well. It did go up again [after the game ended] so they would have done OK," Bayerl said.

The second-place Marathon High participant was junior Reef Landrum, who finished 20th overall in the division with $104,079. Third place was junior Tasha Cummings, who finished 32nd overall with $102,864.

"It's an investment attitude toward money and it's an academic task as well," Bayerl said. "Some of them might be financial managers or brokers in the future."

Each year, New Jersey native and Key Colony Beach resident Peter Donnelly visits the school to share his love for the stock market with Marathon High students. He demonstrates software he's used to be successful in the market and offers tips to the students.

Bayerl said Donnelly has been visiting classes for nearly a decade and that students benefit from his expertise. "He is very devoted. He's spent years studying the market. He's been a really good addition from year to year," she said.


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Source: Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, FL)

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