Walls, 14, is 2nd in US in Stock Market Game

“I was pretty proud of myself, just knowing I beat all these college teams and everything.”

Marlee Walls
Eighth-grader at Moyock Middle School

By Corinne Saunders

Staff Writer

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MOYOCK — A Moyock Middle School eighth-grader’s competitive nature paid virtual dividends, as she placed second nationally in The Stock Market Game.

“I was pretty proud of myself, just knowing I beat all these college teams and everything,” Marlee Walls said.

The 14-year-old said she recently found out that she made the junior varsity competitive cheerleading team at Currituck County High School, where she will attend in the fall.

She joined the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club in sixth grade, after taking computer classes from Julie West, a business entrepreneurship teacher and FBLA adviser at Moyock Middle.

Marlee said she enjoyed having West as a teacher, and that West told her about the FBLA club.

“I’m really competitive,” Marlee said. “She said we do lots competitions (and) I was totally in.”

The Stock Market Game is open to FBLA teams and individuals in middle school through college, and involves using virtual dollars to purchase stocks.

Marlee had played on one of three teams of Moyock Middle School students during the fall semester.

“We did well in the region but didn’t place nationally,” she said.

This semester, she was the only student at her school interested in competing, so she entered the competition solo.

“We did well the first semester, so I was like, ‘Why not?’”

She added that she wanted to try some new strategies this time around.

Competing alone had both advantages and disadvantages, she said. She missed the benefit of other teammates’ opinions, but noted that she didn’t have any disagreements regarding what stocks to purchase.

West had a helpful suggestion for Marlee, she said, in focusing on seasonal stocks.

The Moyock Middle team that placed second nationally in the fall utilized that strategy to a degree, so Marlee figured it was worth a try.

“I actually bought a lot of spring stocks,” she said, noting that the competition spanned the transition from winter to spring.

She said she invested in landscaping, pool companies and clothing companies.

Unlike actions taken during the game with her team in the fall -- “trading a lot of stocks very rapidly” -- Marlee chose to let her stocks sit, for the most part.

“I would try to log on whenever I had free time and just make sure they were doing well,” she said of her stocks.

“If they were doing really poorly, then I would trade them,” she said, noting that she didn’t trade many.

Even if some of her stocks were losing value, she’d typically have others going up, “so it kind of balanced out,” she said.

Marlee said the game is both fun and educational. She said it teaches participants how to manage their money, and the importance of regularly checking it.

Another lesson, she said, is “if you’re losing money, you take care of that so you don’t continue to lose money.”

Because the competition is done entirely online, she said it is more accessible to students.

Many competitions through the FBLA and through other organizations require travel and schedules, and costs can be prohibitive for some students to enter those.

“This is easy,” she said. “All you have to do is get a password and go online. Everyone has a chance to compete.”

Currituck High does not have an active FBLA chapter, but Marlee said she and several of her friends hope to change that next year. They need to find a faculty adviser, she said, adding that West would assist them in the meantime.

Marlee said she plans to recruit other high school students and form teams to again compete in The Stock Market Game.