By Jill Fox
In its inaugural year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the investment club has quickly gained in popularity with meetings drawing close to 90 of the 110 students who registered last August.
Mathematics Teacher, Michael Powell sponsors the club, which meets biweekly, but said he has worked to make it an organization run by the students. Powell, who taught at Forest Glen Middle School in Coral Springs for 11 years before coming to Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2016, said he created the club because several students in his study hall class were exhibiting a high level of interest in investing.
“In an affluent area like Parkland, you would think kids would have the knowledge, since their parents are most likely investors, but they don’t,” said Powell, “They know it’s a thing, but they’re not sure how to get started.”
He wanted to create an opportunity for another set of student leaders in something that wasn’t being addressed on campus. He went through the application process with four interested students, including Senior Alex Azar and Junior Jordan Khayyami.
Azar, who plans to attend the University of Florida and major in finance, said his peers would talk about the stock market, and were looking for unique and creative ways to build their wealth at a young age.
“We wanted to create a forum at MSD within which like-minded students could gather to discuss strategy and build a space for students interested in investment,” said Azar.
Khayyami enjoys the social aspect of the club, “When we meet, it’s a free space where everyone can talk, collaborate and share ideas.”
For students interested in participating in real markets, getting started on their IRAs and custodial accounts, the club has had representatives from Charles Schwab and Fidelity present to the group about the opportunities available to them. About half of the students have already opened up real-world accounts and started to fund them.
For those not yet ready to invest actual money, there’s The Stock Market Game, where students get to trade and manage their own virtual $100,000 investment portfolio in an eight-week competition.
Played by more than 600,000 students across the United States, the game introduces students to saving and investing through a simulation of the stock and bond market.
Sound familiar? The popular game, around since 1977, used to have students searching through pages of the newspaper for four-letter codes. These days, they can download an app that works in conjunction with their student team portfolios, allowing them to look up ticker symbols and enter trades. With access to their online portfolio, they research and apply their investment ideas in a real-world market environment.
The program provided by The SIFMA Foundation, in which Charles Schwab is the primary sponsor, offers the Stock Market Game to schools at no cost.
Powell divided the investment club into teams of two, and juniors Drew Reisner and William Mitchell won the fall competition, which took place from October to December, by increasing their $100,000 investment to $141,995.
Not only did they win at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, they earned first place in the high school division of the 2019 Fall Stock Market Game Session, beating 1,498 teams in the state.
Principal Michelle Kefford said, “I want to congratulate our mathematics department chair, and investment club sponsor, Michael Powell, and the entire investment club for their amazing first place win in the stock market game.”
Mitchell attributed their win to a little bit of luck and a little bit of wanting it. He said they weren’t doing well at the start, and then found one stock, Karuna Therapeutics (KRTX) that was becoming public and seemed to be going up, so they put a lot of money into it, sold it at the right time, and increased their portfolio by $50,000, ending the competition with a 41 percent return.
Reisner, who has been involved in DECA since his freshman year, said he’d played the stock market game before, and this time, they acted as if the world was ending tomorrow. He plans to invest his own money on a smaller scale.
For their achievement, the two young men have been invited to speak at the Stock Market Game Award Ceremony on Wednesday, May 13, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Miami.