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Wildcats make smart moves in the stock market

West Ranch lunch club makes big gains to take top prizes in investing competitions

Posted: January 5, 2010 9:34 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Grabbing the Wall Street Journal off the driveway in the morning and turning on "Mad Money" in the evening might be expected of a stock broker, but it may very well be the routine for the members of the award-winning West Ranch High Stock Market Club.

"(The market games and club) teaches the students a necessary life skill toward managing their money and how to invest it wisely," said West Ranch business teacher and club advisor Linda Cox. "They love everyday to go flip on the computer and see how their stocks are doing."

The club, which meets Mondays during lunch throughout the school year, boasts more than 60 members. And while the temperatures plummet and school winds down for the holidays, the club continues looks to stay hot during their state-wide competitions, which come to an end Dec. 18.

For several years, Cox has taught various stock market strategies during meetings and led her students to post outstanding results compared to other high schools in the state during various stock market research contests.

The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board recently recognized her and members of the club on Aug. 27 for the previous competition season.

Each semester West Ranch students, usually about 10 groups of two or three, participate. There are 10 and 15-week competitions, as well as a year-long competition held online between schools throughout the Southern California region and state, Cox said.

"The students get to make all the choices," said Cox. "They start off with a $100,000 and get see how they are doing against other schools every day through the competition Web site."

The virtual investment capital lets students track the stock market and its trends on the world economy.

"Mrs. Cox was explaining how the market works in a down economy during our last competition," said sophomore Samantha Doucette. "People stopped buying things from big-name, big-market stores and were going to stores such as Wal-Mart, so we needed to invest in those types of companies."

The students track their results daily with reports on the companies they research; challenging material for a high school student in a bear market.

"The competition and investing is busier in the beginning, where we have to meet with our partners a few times a week," said junior Nedal Zayyad. "It's hectic."

In order to keep up with the non-stop international market, the students created a Facebook group to communicate and dish advice on stocks, Cox said.

Doucette and her partner, sophomore Katherne Koury, placed second in the state in the annual National Competition last season, right behind fellow Wildcats Jaewoo Chung, Arnold Kim and James Jung. The three first-place winners took their initial investment up to a final value of $128,256.42, a 60 percent rate of growth over the Standard and Poor's index.

Zayyad and fellow juniors Conner McClafferty and Shaan Saroa will look to add to their seventh-place finish in this year's Capitol Hill Challenge in February, the third year in a row a West Ranch team has been chosen for the competition to represent Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon.

The end results of this semester's competition have yet to come in, but the students' hard work in and out of the lunch meetings has certainly paid off. The group will travel to New York City, one of the financial capitals of the world, after the spring's Advanced Placement testing.

"We pretend as if the group has real money in our competitions, and that you have actual stocks that are going on the NYSE, which we will visit," said Doucette.

Some students have even taken their "virtual" knowledge into the real trade markets.

"I have already been doing some small trades on my own, and it has gone OK," said McClafferty.


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