Stock Market Game winners

Cleburne County Elementary School students show off their prizes in the Stock Market Game (Left to right first row: Hunter Hanvey and Douglas Baker. Back row, left to right: Joseph Brown, Camden Beam, Seth Jackson and Madilin Lines and Mia Fernandez. (Submitted photo)

HEFLIN — Cleburne County Elementary fourth-grader Mia Fernandez has some stock market advice: Buy high-performing stocks that are already on their way up.

Or in an expert’s lingo, “Go for the highest chart, not the lowest.”

Fernandez, 9, is one of four kids in the school system’s gifted program who might be considered experts, relatively speaking: They recently placed first, out of 218 regional teams, in the national Stock Market Game.

Fernandez’s team was given an imaginary $100,000 to spend on stocks, bonds and equities, part of their task being to research companies to learn whether those companies would be good investments, according to the school system’s gifted specialist Dianna Hardy.

Fernandez said the nine-week experience was exciting but she felt bad for other investors who lost pretend money in the real-world stock market, which has been volatile.

“It was a really hard quarter to really show them successful investing because every week it’s going down, down, down, down and they would get depressed,” Hardy said.

Hardy, an investor herself, told the teams to look back at the history of the stock market, because it will eventually come back up.

“They always do,” she said.

Hardy taught the kids how the market works, what a stock actually is and what it means to own one.

“You’re actually invested in that company and you’re actually owning a piece of that company,” Hardy said.

Hardy told the kids when buying stock to consider a blue-chip company — one with a history of success in its earnings reports.

“Don’t look at a one-day report, don’t look at a five-day report, you have to look at five years or longer to see if a company can withstand the ups and downs of the stock market,” Hardy said.

Hardy told students about the companies that they are familiar with such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Target but also introduced them to others that were doing well in the market.

“The particular group that won the entire game actually bought stock in Tesla and that was a big determining factor in them winning the game,” said Hardy. Tesla is the electric-car maker headed by celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk. The company’s stock price on the NASDAQ exchange rose by more than 50 percent in early October to its peak Dec. 13, according to market information online.

Instead of having a team which won by losing the least in the unstable market, the winning team actually had a gain overall, according to Hardy.

Hardy said that a lot of adults don’t understand the stock market, and they automatically assume these kids will have no clue.

“So when you actually introduce something like this at a young age and they do have a clue, they are able to get something out of it,” Hardy said.

“I actually had a parent last time, they said, ‘Do you think these kids will really get anything out of this?’ and I said, ‘If they get one piece of information and learn one thing, they’ve learned something,’” Hardy said.

The winning team received drawstring bags and a check for $150 for their classroom. Hardy said another of her teams ended up in fourth place and received drawstring bags and $75.

Fernandez said that she will invest in the stock market later on in life and termed the experience “lots of fun” and “amazing.”

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.