Three EPHS seniors excel in finance, meet the market ‘challenge’

Trio earns trip to D.C. by placing top 10 nationally in contest

By Mike Rego
Posted 7/8/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — Three East Providence High School seniors, with an assist from their teacher, recently finished in the top 10 nationally out of over 2,000 teams that vied in an economics based …

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Three EPHS seniors excel in finance, meet the market ‘challenge’

Trio earns trip to D.C. by placing top 10 nationally in contest

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — Three East Providence High School seniors, with an assist from their teacher, recently finished in the top 10 nationally out of over 2,000 teams that vied in an economics based contest conducted by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).

The students earned themselves an all-expensed paid trip to Washington D.C. sponsored by Rhode Island U.S. Senator Jack Reed, including meetings with elected officials and executives in the business world.

Students Tyler Carlson, Brandon Johnson and Andrew Komiega as well as EPHS Math teacher Marty McCabe were awarded the trip to D.C. following their superb performance in the “Capital Hill Challenge.”

The contest, the second of three EPHS students participated in during the just completed 2018-19 term, was part of a Financial Literacy class taught by Mr. McCabe. It’s the second year the upperclass elective has been offered to EPHS students, done so at the behest of principal Shani Wallace. Mr. McCabe, who has a master’s degree in Finance, called the stock market based class a “natural” for him to steward and said it was “so much fun to teach.”

The “Capital Hill Challenge” required students to put together a theoretical $100,000 portfolio made up of stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Mr. McCabe emphasized it was the students who did most of the heavy lifting, deciding themselves which stocks were chosen, tracking growth and opting whether to buy or sell. Their efforts were then measured against a bench-line portfolio in the Standard & Poor's 500.

All concerned said the class and the trip to D.C. were life changing activities.

“It’s something I’ll never forget, really,” said Komiega, who will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall with an eye towards majoring in Computer Science.

He continued, “Going around to all the different monuments, going to all the different organizations like SIFMA, meeting the executives and learning from their experiences, it really showed me how Washington D.C. works and how the stock market has such an impact on Washington D.C. itself.”

For Johnson, who will complete his General Studies requirements at the Community College of Rhode Island over the next two years, the experience altered his knowledge of money and the market.

“I’ve gained a lot,” he explained. “I would say where I feel like I’ve gained the most information in on saving. I’ve always took saving seriously, but I look at it to a different degree now. Even putting away five dollars a week or even a quarter. Four quarters transfers to a dollar, a dollar to five. It adds up.”

Johnson added, “I’m not going to lie. When I first started this class I knew nothing about the stock market. And now from the beginning of the year until the end it’s just completely different.”

Principal Wallace said she took pleasure in seeing students build upon the broader experience of being in high school, putting what they’ve learned into practical use.

“I’m just impressed with their thinking skills, their analytical skills and applying it to real life now,” she said. “They’re thinking how they can apply this to their life, not just in the classroom or having fun.”

Prior to the competition, Mr. McCabe engaged his students in an exercise that he said both summed up the aims of the “Capital Hill Challenge” and the Financial Literacy class he instructs. Each are and were worthwhile endeavors in his mind.

“Before we started I gave them a warm-up activity,” Mr. McCabe said. “I told them their grandmother gave them $1,000 when they were born. They had to look up their life expectancy and then they could invest it in two ways. Put it in a savings account and earn two percent interest or invest it in the stock market for like 20 years. And these guys were surprised how much the stock market could return on just $1,000. What I was really trying to teach them was the time value of money. These guys now, when they get their first jobs, they will definitely be putting some money away after what they’ve learned.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.