MOYOCK — Future Business Leaders of America Adviser Julie West thought The Stock Market Game would be an enjoyable activity for her students. She had no idea one of her teams would win 2nd place nationally in the FBLA-sanctioned game.
West’s three Moyock Middle School teams took 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the regional competition, in which about eight teams from states including North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia competed.
They went on to place 2nd, 13th and 14th nationally in a field of about 50 teams, and West was surprised and pleased.
“I had no idea it was going to be as successful as it was,” West said. “As they kept doing it, they became more interested.”
She had offered the game to any interested FBLA students. In the Moyock Middle School club of about 70 students, 11 decided to play, she said.
West, a business entrepreneurship teacher at the middle school, also advises the FBLA club at J.P. Knapp Early College High School.
She said J.P. Knapp students chose not to compete and were amazed with the middle school teams’ rankings.
“They’re looking at these guys: ‘What in the world!,’” she said.
The 11 middle school students formed two teams of three and one team of five.
Colin Coffie, Kaleb Kight and Alex Duvall — all in seventh grade and 13 years old — won the regional competition and placed 2nd nationally.
They said they learned about the seasonality of stocks.
The game ran about six weeks, ending in mid-December, so the trio found success purchasing stocks in winter clothing companies; and the approaching Christmas holiday made stocks in certain retail companies lucrative, they said.
Currently, they said they are competing in a similar stock market simulation game, with the goal of winning and thus earning a trip to the New York Stock Market Exchange.
“We’re trying to learn a new season; it’s a lot different now than then,” Kight said.
Nick Lonce, FBLA club president, said at the beginning of the game, each team received $100,000 in virtual dollars.
Bethany Forehand, vice president for the club, said the teams could then purchase whichever stocks they wanted.
“You really have to look at it every single day because it changes so fast,” Forehand said.
She added that their team had a group message going constantly, because they had to collaborate about which stocks to purchase or to sell.
Lonce and Forehand both pointed to a major reason FBLA students were able to play the game this year: every student had reliable computer access, thanks to the Chromebooks Currituck County Schools purchased for every middle and high school student.
They found their team was more successful with small, lesser-known companies.
“Bigger companies you thought should be doing really well were doing really bad[ly],” Forehand said.
Google, Nike, Amazon, eBay, Apple and Verizon stocks did not do well, they said.
Other hitches included the partial government shutdown and the fact “Harris Teeter got bought out” during the game’s timeframe, Forehand said.
Dawson Romanko said it was hard to sell the team’s stocks in Netflix, noting that he got attached to the stocks, but “they grow so fast.”
Coffie, Kight and Duvall said they did well with stocks in Apple and Microsoft.
West noted that one team might have had the stocks short-term and the other might have kept it throughout the game.
First place nationally, as well as third through 10th, went to high school teams, with the exception of fifth place, which was a college team.
West said she recognized the college’s name because it is located in West Virginia, her home state.
West said some FBLA students are currently playing the Capitol Hill Stock Market Game, and that the 10 winners receive a trip to Washington, D.C.
“We won’t know the results until May,” she said, because the game runs from January to April.
“I think their competitive natures are coming out,” she said.
The FBLA students in her classes “would finish assignments early, pop their Chromebook open” and start playing stocks, she said, and several students came to school early in the morning specifically to play the game.
Two members of the club’s highest-placing trio actually were inactive members prior to the game, West said.
“One joined because of the Stock Market Game,” she said, adding that with the successes of these students, more students are now interested in joining the club.
The 11 students who placed in the regional competition are Marlee Walls, Kaleb Kight, Colin Coffie, Bethany Forehand, Rebecca Marler, Nick Lonce, Cole Bates, Dawson Romanko, Alex Duvall, Jacob Heowick and Fernando Pascuzzi.