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Putting the ‘gold’ in black and gold

St. Laurence students earn college cash in investment competition

By Kelly White

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St. Laurence High School Rapunzl City-Wide Investment winners Emilio Barrientos, Erick Loyola and Alejandro Ochoa. –Supplied photo

Emilio Barrientos decided to attend St. Laurence High School for its renowned baseball program and academics.

“The STEM program helps develop and guide students toward reaching their full potential,” Barrientos, 16, of Stickney, said.

STEM, made up of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, geared Barrientos towards competing in the Rapunzl City-Wide Investment Challenge.

Rapunzl is offered to Chicago-area high school students. Three St. Laurence students earned a combined $4,000 in scholarship prizes for their investment strategies–including Barrientos, who came in second place in the competition.

“I wasn’t playing baseball at the time because of an injury and saw the flyer about the Rapunzl Challenge,” Barrientos said. “I figured it would be a fun thing to learn about and kill time while I’m in recovery. It quickly turned into a hobby and something I enjoyed doing. I definitely see myself having a future now in finance and investing.”

The investment simulation gave students $10,000 to buy and sell stocks to build their portfolios.

“The active engagement in the simulation helped students learn about the volatility of the market,” Laura Storino, Director of Leadership and Mission Integration at St. Laurence, said. “It also aided them in gaining knowledge of economic concepts and helped to build student confidence in the field of finance.”

The challenge was offered to all students at St. Laurence, ranging from freshmen to seniors. All stock-related activity took place over the course of several months, outside the normal school day.

“The students were willing to take risks and take the time to learn about the companies they had the chance to invest in,” Storino said. “By following news stories about the companies, students were able to make predictions and apply that knowledge in the market.”

Along with Barrientos taking second place, the other two St. Laurence students recognized for utilizing their market-savvy skills in the Rapunzl City-Wide Investment Challenge were Erick Loyola, 17, of Midlothian (first place) and Alex Ochoa, 16, of West Lawn (fourth place).

“I decided to attend St. Laurence because the school offers me better opportunities like this competition that other schools don’t have,” Loyola said.

Loyola plans to attend Loyola University, study economics and earn his MBA. His educational goal is to one day start his own hedge fund.

His interest in investing sparked at home.

“What inspired me was my mom, who invests in real estate,” Loyola said. “I started reading books and learning and at 15, I opened a custodial account that I was successful with. Winning means a lot because I had been studying this for years. It was the perfect opportunity.”

For Ochoa, it was a fun opportunity that led to money for college expenses.

“I was inspired to get involved into finance/investing because of the ability it has to help you become prosperous,” Ochoa said. “I can see a future in it as a hobby or something to do for fun.”

Ochoa decided to attend St. Laurence for its athletics and commitment to helping their students grow. He is currently undecided about where to attend college but plans to study political science. He does, however, know one thing for sure.

“Winning the Rapunzl Challenge means a lot to me because it means my hard work paid off,” he said.

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