Project nets big return
Parkview wins stock market competition

LILBURN - Maybe the economics students at Parkview High School have the answer to the nation's recession.

Despite the challenges of this current economy, a group of students from the Lilburn school nearly quadrupled a $100,000 investment in the stock market in 10 weeks this spring.

Too bad it was all hypothetical.

With a portfolio valued at $389,133, students Alex Han, Melissa Kelly and Taylor Patterson won the spring Georgia Stock Market Game - a record-setting seventh statewide win for the school.

"It's a great way, from a teaching standpoint, for students to learn about economics," said Parkview economics teacher Tim Watkins, who coached the team. "It gives them the opportunity to learn about the opportunities out there (in the stock market) and the risk involved as well."

The spring Stock Market Game trading session ran from Feb. 9 to April 17, with 4,551 teams from 342 schools playing, according to the Georgia Council on Economic Education. Teachers use the game each fall and spring to help fourth- through 12th-grade students learn about economics, private enterprise and investing by researching publicly traded companies on the Internet, reading business publications and crunching numbers. After 10 weeks, the team with the highest portfolio value wins.

About 60 teams from Parkview participated in the spring competition, Watkins said. Most of the portfolios lost value, and he said the gains of the winning team's portfolio were "quite impressive."

Three economics teachers at Parkview - Watkins, Mark Leviton and Gary Petmecky - have coached teams that have won the Stock Market Game.

Debbie Daniell, Gwinnett County Public Schools' director of social studies, said the three teachers "bring economics to life and make it a real situation" for students. Their consistent success is the result of their passion and ability to use hands-on learning opportunities as teachable moments, she said.

Watkins said this economic climate is making it more important for students to learn more than how to save money and the pitfalls of getting too far into debt. For example, the growing unemployment rate could affect students.

"All of its a wake-up call for everyone, including these kids," he said.

Although teams can win big in the Stock Market Game, Watkins said teachers don't advise the students to scrounge up money to try to get rich quick.

"Losing the game is OK, but losing it when it really counts is not," he said.