Battle Mountain High School students take stock | VailDaily.com

Battle Mountain High School students take stock

Fifty-five Battle Mountain High School students were among 1,500 Junior Achievement competitors in the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge.
Special to the Daily |

DENVER — Put 1,500 teens in one place, and their collective fancy turns to collection money.

At least it does when it’s the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge, held last week at the University of Denver. Fifty-five Battle Mountain High School students were among 40 teams from Colorado high schools who competed in the event.

What they learned

The Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge is a live stock market simulation game that works something like this:

Teams get to spend 500,000 fictitious dollars, sort of like the federal government in the real world. The goal is to grow their initial $500,000 investment more than the other guys, and into the largest net worth “mock” stock portfolio.

Classroom lessons are good, but stuff got real when they hit their simulated trading floor. The pace was frenetic, to put it mildly. Students experienced two months of simulated trading in about two hours.

Who taught them

Tina DeWitt taught two of the three classes to the Battle Mountain students who participated.

Students learn the basics of stock investing, and they come to understand how different corporations are structured — from sole proprietorships to multi-nationals.

They also learn the differences between stocks (buying a tiny piece of a company) and mutual funds (lots of different kinds of investments compiled to your goals), which leads them to a lesson in risk vs. return, DeWitt said.

“That’s the reason I teach this class,” DeWitt said. “The importance of JA is to give the kids these basics before they leave high school. They’ll have foundation to work from, instead of saying 10 or 15 years from now that they wish they’d learned that ‘back when.’”

Kevin Armitage, market president of Centennial Bank in Edwards, taught a version of Stock Market 101 to prepare the Battle Mountain students. Armitage started teaching for Junior Achievement when he was in college. There was a component of volunteering, so that’s what he volunteered to do.

In Eagle County, Junior Achievement was running with about 150 kids a year when it took off like a rocket. With programs for K-12, Junior Achievement reached more than 3,000 Eagle County students last school year.

Three years ago, Colorado’s curriculum was shifted to include personal financial literacy. Local Junior Achievement volunteers became the go-to instructors, because the Junior Achievement courses touched on everything the curriculum said kids needed to know, Armitage said.

A little literacy would help

We could use a little more financial literacy in Colorado.

Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, using national data, graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates. Colorado received a C.

“The grading shows that we have a long way to go before we are a financially literate nation,” the college said when they released the data a few weeks ago.

Only five states earned an A, and sadly, 26 states received grades of C, D or F. Of those, 29 percent had grades of D or F.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.