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Students' stock up

May 10, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Two South Hagerstown High School freshman teams placed first and second in a regional stock market competition, but the students are having a hard time figuring out how they did it.

"We had no idea what we were doing," said 14-year-old Heather Griffith, who was on the six-member team that took first place among high schools in the Western Maryland Region Stock Market Game.

Griffith was joined by Davile Richardson, 15; Cherelle Richardson, 15; Rita Holmes, 15; Tabitha Allen, 14; and Jessica Rosa, 15.

The South High teams went up against other Washington County high schools and those from Garrett, Allegany and Frederick counties.

The South High students are in Bob Hornbecker's local, state and national government class.

Hornbecker said the teams are given a theoretical $100,000 to invest in companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The teams whose theoretical investments made the most money over a 10-week period won.

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The teams picked companies with which they were familiar and tracked their progress twice a week, he said.

"It was kind of boring," Cherelle said.

"We basically just guessed," Tabitha said.

The team's companies included Ralph Lauren, General Motors, Victoria's Secret and Wal-Mart. By the end of the 10-week period, the team, had it been using real money, would have made $9,789 over the $100,000 they began with.

Members of the second-place team said they walked away from the competition thinking the stock market was confusing.

"Everything I bought crashed," said Shannen Kendall, 14. "Half the people on our team were confused all the time. I know I was one of them."

Members of the second place team included Shannen, Tina Gardner, Nicole Johnson, Misty Niswander, Jessica Clarambeau and Robert Lowery.

"It was fun when you knew what you were doing," Misty said. "When the prices went up, it was a lot more fun."

That team ended up "making" $3,158 over the 10-week period.

Both teams will attend an awards ceremony at Towson University on May 20 and will receive plaques with their names on them.

Shannen said one thought popped into her head after she found out her team had placed second.

"I hope they have food. That's what I was thinking," she said. "If they got free food, I'm there."

Hornbecker said the teams researched their companies before they invested but that luck played an important part in the competition.

"I really think we're just lucky," he said. "It's certainly nothing I do."

Hornbecker said he competes in the competition for adults, and he usually places in the middle of the pack.

"I never really do well," he said. "I don't think they take my advice, or they wouldn't be winning."

Team members said their success in the game hasn't sparked an interest in having careers on Wall Street or investing their money.

"I don't know what the whole purpose of the stock market is," Rita said. "What is the purpose?"

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