Real-life money lessons for Palliser students

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Kate Andrews High School  students ( from left to right) Carly Cajka, Alyssa Brown, Ty Oelke (standing) and Nico Peters track their trading progress during a break at the High School Finance Competition at the University of Lethbridge.

The first-ever High School Finance Competition at the University of Lethbridge proved time well-invested for a pair of student teams from Palliser.

The competition offered 10 teams from nine different high schools across southern Alberta the opportunity to get a real-life taste – minus the financial risk – of stock market trading at the university’s Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching.

Kate Andrews High School’s “Team Pride” placed third overall, in a competition which saw students take part in an investment challenge with a follow-up presentation, as well as a live trading challenge. The other Palliser Regional Schools’ squad, “The Marxists” from Coalhurst High School, advanced through the redemption round to join the five-team, finals round.

“We were hoping to win, of course, but the learning experience was great and it was very fun,” said Grade 10 student Nico Peters, who flew the Coaldale school’s colours along with Alyssa Brown, Carly Cajka and Ty Oelke. “I think my favourite part of the whole experience was the live trading challenge. It was quite exciting and quite a challenge as well.”

Michael Sears, who teamed up with Simon Wipf and Sheila Entz for Coalhurst High, finds finances interesting and was looking forward to seeing how the team would fare under the pressure of the trading room. He got a kick out of it, and it wasn’t only because he wasn’t playing with real dollars.

“I don’t know, maybe,” said the Grade 12 student, when asked if it would be as much fun playing with his own money. “I like the risk. One of the judges asked us, when we were done our presentations, if we did this again would we do it the same way? And I was like, ‘yes, yes I would!’ ”

The event actually began a month prior to competition day, as the investment challenge allowed teams to create a simulated portfolio through buying and selling gold bars, treasury bills and stocks.

Despite the make-believe premise of the competition, teacher Kade Hogg said the event allows students to apply what they’ve learned in his financial management class at Kate Andrews.

“Everything I do in the finance class ties back to real-life experiences,” he said. “Money is a real part of their lives so I want them to know how to wisely invest it and wisely save it.”

As judges tallied the scores from the three components of the High School Finance Competition the students heard from a trio of Faculty of Management alumni about possible career options.

“I like numbers so it is certainly something I could think of going into in the future,” said 15-year-old Peters, adding his experience at the U of L was encouraging in that regard.

Sears, 18, also found the world of high finances “interesting.” Since he has “no idea” yet of a possible career path that puts the option high up on his list, for now.

Clayton Varjassy, trading room manager at the U of L, said plans are in the works to make the event an annual one and he hopes to see it grow in the number of teams each year. After taking suggestions from team members, he said changes could occur in time for next year’s event, perhaps taking into consideration the risk factor students accepted, rather than rankings based purely on cumulative profit and loss.